August 27, 2016

Just Breathe: Johanna Konta Wins Maiden WTA Title at Bank of the West Classic

Williams and Konta

By Curt Janka

(July 24, 2016) STANFORD, California –  British No. 1 Johanna Konta earned her first WTA title by battling past top seed Venus Williams 7-5, 5-7, 6-2. This match was Konta’s first final while Williams was playing her 80th final. That said, Konta played with poise and control. She hit her spots and capitalized on opportunities.

 

Venus Williams

Venus Williams

Williams put up a valiant fight. Despite going down a set and two breaks in the second set, she never gave up. “Just because it’s 4-1 doesn’t mean the match is over” Williams said. She couldn’t quite come back in the third set, however, and gave lots of credit to her opponent. “She had a lot of great shots. She came up with a lot of winners. She just played a great match.”

Johanna Konta

Johanna Konta

After her semifinal, Konta said controlling her breathing helped her win. She was asked if it helped again today. “Breathing! Revolutionary, guys” she laughed, then explained further, “It helps with my train of thought. The more simple you keep things, the more clarity you have and the less dumb you play.“

So, how was her breathing near the end of the second set when Venus came back from two breaks? More laughs, “Yeah I probably did forget to breath there.”

In the third set, Konta said she went back to keeping things simple. “Coming into that third set it was about just putting things behind you and really breaking it down. Every single point was a battle and you try to win as many battles as possible.”

Along the way, Konta said she found herself wanting to learn from Williams.  “I was thinking a lot in that third set,” she explained “about how many times Venus has been in this position. And just really appreciating that and understanding the magnitude of that. How lucky am I to play against one of the best players in the sport that I’m a part of. Just being grateful of that just makes things lighter and puts things in perspective. Hopefully one day I’ll be as experienced as she is.”

She is indeed learning from one of the best and climbing up the rankings along the way.  Both Konta and Williams will be moving up – as of Monday Konta will be No. 14 in the world with Williams up a notch to No. 6.

 

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Venus Williams Reaches Eighth Stanford Final

Venus Williams

Venus Williams

 

(July 23, 2016) After a dominating first set, top seed Venus Williams survived some serving problems near the end of the second set, including saving two set points, to beat U.S. countrywoman, No. 78 in the world, Alison Riske 6-1, 7-6(2) to reach the Stanford final on Saturday night.

 

For Venus Williams, who is playing the main draw of the Bank of the West Classic for the thirteenth time, this will be her eighth final. The world No. 7 last reached the Stanford final in 2009, falling to Marion Bartoli. Williams captured the title in 2000 and 2002.

 

Williams breezed through the first set, winning 76% of first serve points, winning 30 of 47 points in the set, going 2 for 2 on break points.

In the second set Williams and Riske exchanged breaks in the fifth and sixth games, with the seven-time major champion getting another break in the ninth game to try and serve out the match at 5-4 in the second. Williams’ serve vanished in the tenth game, when she hit three straight double faults to give Riske the break. Riske held for 6-5, but in the next game Williams was still having problems with her first serve. She fought off two set points against her to reach the second set tiebreak which she won easily 7-2.

1-Venus Williams bank of the West

The 36-year-old Williams will take on 25-year-old British No. 1 and world No. 18 Johanna Konta for the title. Williams and Konta are tied 1-1 in head-to-head play, with Konta upsetting Williams, the last time they faced off in the first round of the most recent Australian Open where Konta won in straight sets. Williams defeated Konta in three sets in final eight of Wuhan in 2015.

Williams will be attempting to win her 50th title in her 80th final on Sunday. She’s hoping to tie her sister Serena, who has three Bank of the West trophies.

“It would be nice to get three. Who doesn’t wanna be like Serena?”

Venus who has played of her matches this week at night, will be playing her first day match in Sunday’s final. She said near the end of her news conference that she was going to prep for the final by getting some rest.

“Right after this question I’m going to go to bed and get some rest,” she said.

Alison Riske

Alison Riske

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Johanna Konta Serves Her Way Into Her First WTA Final

Johanna Konta

Johanna Konta

By Curt Janka

(July 23, 2016) STANFORD, California – Johanna Konta lost just six points on her serve as she toppled Dominika Cibulkova 6-4, 6-2 in the first semifinal of the Bank of the West Classic. The win earns Konta her first WTA final and it’s the first time a British player has played for the trophy here since Virginia Wade in 1981.

The third seed Konta served a total of nine games and held at love for six of them. Cibulkova, the second seed and 2013 champion, is arguably one of the better returners on tour, so what made Konta’s serve so tough today? “She was placing the serve so well and it was hard for me to do something with it,” the Slovak Cibulkova answered. “She was changing the directions of the serve, so that was the main thing. Today she was just serving too well.“

The 25-year-old British woman, currently ranked No. 18,  backed up her serve with solid ground strokes and returns, breaking her higher-seeded opponent three times. After the match, she was pleased with her performance. “I’m really happy to have come through that and to be into my first final,” Konta said. “I thought I served well and did a good job in the end of staying in the present. She [Cibulkova] is an incredible competitor, so I knew going into the match that I was going to have to be there for every single point. I achieved that, so I’m feeling very grateful and looking forward to my next match tomorrow.”

Konta was also playing in the doubles semifinal with her partner, Maria Sanchez, against Darija Jurak and Anastasia Rodionova. Konta will play Venus Williams in the final. The two-time Stanford winner beat Alison Riske in the night session.

“I’m really happy to have come through that and to be into my first final,” Konta said after her win.

 

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Venus Williams Playing Like The Top Seed She Is At The Bank Of The West Classic

Venus Williams

Venus Williams

By Curt Janka

(July 22, 2016) STANFORD, California –  A relaxed Venus Williams played composed tennis as she breezed to a 6-4, 6-1 win over 17-year-old wildcard Catherine Bellis at the Bank of the West Classic on Friday night. While it may have taken three sets for Williams to get by her previous opponent, there was no sign of tension in her play on Friday night. Experience may have been the key against her younger opponent.

When asked why she looked so at ease on the court she said, “I just felt like I had a lot of experience and as a young person she has to go for a lot more than I ever have to go for because I understand the game more. So I felt just comfortable that I could control the match.”

“After Wimbledon I was really pumped,” the 36-year-old Williams said. “I was like, ‘I can’t wait to play.’ That felt good. It felt good to be eager.”

When asked what else she is looking forward to this summer, the two-time Stanford winner replied, “There’s so much to look forward to! The semifinals tomorrow is like my main focus. The Olympics I’ve been waiting for four years. As soon as the last one was over I was ready to go again. It’s getting closer and it feels surreal but when I get there it’s gonna be real. And after that you just turn right back around and play the Open.”

CiCi Bellis

CiCi Bellis

Despite a quick second set, Bellis did make the first set very competitive. “I learned a lot,” she said. “I think mainly I just have to focus on the key points. There are a couple points in the first set that I think if I played a little bit more aggressive I could have won them. But, you know, she’s obviously the number one seed here, so it’s unbelievable to be on the court with someone like her.“

Asked about her short-term goals, Bellis smiled and said, “Yesterday, actually, I committed to Stanford. I’m just going to see how the next year goes in my pro career.” She explained that after another year on tour, she would start her college career at Stanford.

Top seed Williams will face Alison Riske in the semifinals on Saturday. Riske advanced when her quarterfinal opponent fourth seed Coco Vandeweghe suffered an ankle injury and had to retire.

In the bottom half of the draw, second seed Dominika Cibulkova came back from two early breaks to win 7-5, 6-0 over Misaki Doi. Cibulkova will next face third seed Johanna Konta, who beat her quarterfinal opponent, Zheng Saiai 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.

 

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Djokovic and Azarenka Two Wins Away From an Indian Wells – Miami Double

(March 30, 2016) No. 1 Novak Djokovic is a match closer to claiming his sixth Miami Open title and third in a row. The Serb, dealing with back spasms on Wednesday night stopped No. 7 seed Tomas Berdych 6-3, 6-3 to reach the semifinals. His opponent will be No. 15 David Goffin of Belgium. Goffin, reaching his second straight Masters 1000 semifinal rallied past Frenchman and No. 18 seed Gilles Simon 3-6, 6-2, 6-1.

Djokovic is now 26-1 on the year. He stand two wins away from pulling off a fourth career Indian Wells – Miami double.

David Goffin

David Goffin

“Yeah, the first set it was tough because it was a good set with a good level,” Goffin said. “Gilles was really solid on his baseline, but I didn’t serve really well in the first set. I didn’t have any free points with my serve, so it was tough.

“I had so many opportunities to come back in the set. I didn’t take, yeah, any occasions to come back. I knew that the level was there and I had to keep going like this, just to stay more focus on some shots just to finish the points, some volleys, some smash, maybe some easy forehands. Maybe just be more precise, because I knew that I was feeling really good.

“Then game after game I was feeling much better. The serve was there in the third set. Yeah, I think with the serve it was the key to win the third.”

Goffin talked about his good run over the past few weeks: “I had a good level all this year during practice. I just had to reproduce my level during a match.

“I think match after match — you know, the first one against Frances Tiafoe in Indian Wells was not the best, but I won that one. Match after match was feeling much better.

“After the Davis Cup of course when I won against Marin Cilic, then match after match I was feeling much better. I won many matches in Indian Wells and here in Miami continued to win, so, yeah, I think the level is here. I have just to keep going like this. Stay aggressive.

“I worked a lot when I practiced with my coach, my two coaches. I think it’s already pays off.”

As for playing Djokovic in semifinals: “I have nothing to lose,” Goffin said. He won almost everything this year. He’s playing unbelievable tennis at the moment. But I played a great match against him last year in Cincinnati, and it could be interesting to watch the match.”

Victoria Azarenka

Victoria Azarenka

Victoria Azarenka stands two wins away from achieving the rare Indian Wells- Miami double. The 13th seed and two-time major winner defeated Britain’s Johanna Konta 6-4, 6-2 to reach the semifinals of the Miami Open on Wednesday.

Only two women have won Indian Wells and Miami in the same year and they are Kim Clijsters in 2005 and Steffi Graf in 1994 and 1996.

“If I’m able to make it, it’s great,” Azarenka said after the match. “It seems so close, but it’s really far. I want to stay in the present. I want to continue to fight and keep getting better.”

“Great player,” Azarenka said of Konta. “I was very impressed with her improvement taking from last year and seeing how well she’s handling the pressure and going in big stages and playing really well. That’s impressive. I’m sure we’re going to see a lot more of her in the future.

“I think especially for England not having women player stand out, she’s going to be the one, I think.”

I think it’s exciting to watch her journey and see happens. She’s definitely playing top 10 level right now.”

The Belarusian who has struggled with injuries the last few years said that she always believed in herself but she still hasn’t reached her peak. “I never doubt my abilities,” said the 2009 and 2011 Miami Open winner. “What came to my mind is definitely after being for so long injured, the doubt was to get healthy. So always been a little bit on my mind.

“But I still feel that I’m far from my best, and that’s what’s really exciting for me, to be motivated, to keep improving. Everybody has doubts. We’re human beings. I always trust my ability and I believe in myself.”

Azarenka will face-off against No. 2 seed Angelique Kerber who defeated No. 22 Madison Keys 6-3, 6-2 in the evening session.

For the reigning Australian Open champion, Kerber this will be her first semifinal in Miami.

Kerber dominated her American opponent, Keys made 39 unforced errors during the match. Kerber rushed need just a little over an hour to complete the victory.

“It’s nice to play a match like this,” Kerber said. “I was feeling good. Madison is always a tough opponent. I know this because we had a lot of tough battles in the past.

“I knew that I must play very good to beat her because she played very well here in the last few matches. So it’s good. It’s good.”

She continued: “I was really trying to stay focus(ed) and stay really concentrate point by point and actually trying to really only focusing on points, on point by point.

“Because I know the tennis game, and sometimes one ball can change and turn around the match. That was my goal: to be focus(ed) and playing my game until the last point.”

Kerber notched her first win over Azarenka in the most recent quarterfinals of the Australian Open. Coming into that match, the Belarusian had a 6-0 advantage over the German.

“I went out there and trying to be really aggressive from the first point, trying to really believe in myself, because until this time I never won the match against her,” Kerber said. “It was 0-6; now it’s 1-6. I will try to go out there again like in Australia and try to believe in my game and myself and, yeah, trying to challenge her.

“It will be not easy. It will be tough match. But this is for what I am practicing, for the big matches out there, to really show what, yeah, we can do and playing the best tennis.

“So I’m really looking forward to play against her again this year.”

As for playing Azarenka in the next round, Kerber said: “She had a great start of the year, of course. She is like, yeah, on fire I think right now. I will just trying to play my game go out and try to beat her. I mean, we played two times already this year and that’s the third time.

“Yeah, I will try to enjoy it. I know that I must play really my best tennis to beat her because she won Indian Wells; she’s here now in the semis.

“Yeah, I will try to take this challenge against her.”

The other semifinal which will take place on Thursday will pit No. 15 Svetlana Kuznetsova, who defeated No. 1 Serena Williams in the third round, against No. 19 seed Timea Bacsinszky who knocked out two straight top 5 seeds to reach the final four.

 

 

MIAMI OPEN PRESENTED BY ITAU – MIAMI, UNITED STATES
21 MARCH – 3 APRIL, 2016

RESULTS – MARCH 30, 2016
Women’s Singles – Quarterfinals
[2] A. Kerber (GER) d [22] M. Keys (USA) 63 62
[13] V. Azarenka (BLR) d [24] J. Konta (GBR) 64 62

Women’s Doubles – Quarterfinals
[3] B. Mattek-Sands (USA) / L. Safarova (CZE) d [5] A. Hlavackova (CZE) / L. Hradecka (CZE) 75 63
[4] T. Babos (HUN) / Y. Shvedova (KAZ) d K. Bondarenko (UKR) / O. Savchuk (UKR) 62 64
[8] Y. Xu (CHN) / S. Zheng (CHN) d E. Makarova (RUS) / B. Strycova (CZE) 62 62

Men’s Singles – Quarterfinals
[1] N. Djokovic (SRB) d [7] T. Berdych (CZE) 63 63
[15] D. Goffin (BEL) d [18] G. Simon (FRA) 36 62 61

Doubles – Quarterfinals
[4] B. Bryan (USA) / M. Bryan (USA) d [WC] O. Jasika (AUS) / J. Smith (AUS) 76(5) 63
[5] P. Herbert (FRA) / N. Mahut (FRA) d J. Chardy (FRA) / F. Martin (FRA) 67(5) 76(5) 10-7
R. Klaasen (RSA) / R. Ram (USA) d P. Petzschner (GER) / A. Peya (AUT) 76(5) 57 10-7
T. Huey (PHI) / M. Mirnyi (BLR) d J. Isner (USA) / N. Monroe (USA) 61 75

 

ORDER OF PLAY – THURSDAY, MARCH 31, 2016
STADIUM start 1:00 pm
WTA – [15] S. Kuznetsova (RUS) vs [19] T. Bacsinszky (SUI)

Not Before 3:00 pm
ATP – [6] K. Nishikori (JPN) vs [16] G. Monfils (FRA)

7:00 pm
ATP – [12] M. Raonic (CAN) vs [24] N. Kyrgios (AUS)

Not Before 9:00 pm
WTA – [13] V. Azarenka (BLR) vs [2] A. Kerber (GER)

GRANDSTAND start 1:00 pm
ATP – [5] P. Herbert (FRA) / N. Mahut (FRA) vs [4] B. Bryan (USA) / M. Bryan (USA)

Not Before 5:00 pm
ATP – R. Klaasen (RSA) / R. Ram (USA) vs T. Huey (PHI) / M. Mirnyi (BLR)

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Kerber Surprises Azarenka to Reach Australian Open Semifinals; In Melbourne Debut Konta Makes Final Four

Kerber fistpump-001

(January 26, 2016) No. 7 seed Angelique Kerber rallied from 2-5 down in the second set to close out No. 14 seed and two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka 6-3, 7-5 to reach her first semifinal in Melbourne. It was the German’s first-ever victory against the Belarusian, to she had lost to in six previous attempts.

“I won against her for the first time. Does feel really good,” Kerber said. “Before I went on court also yesterday I was practicing in my practice to be more aggressive.

“I played very well. I mean, I was playing my game from the first point. Also when I was down 2-5, I was actually, yeah, playing more aggressive on this time. I think that was the key.

“I served very well and was moving good. I think the key from this match was that I was playing and I won the match. She doesn’t lose it; I actually won it.”

Kerber had jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first set. Azarenka regained one of the breaks to get to 3-4 but failed to capitalize on break points to draw even in the eighth game.

“I did put myself in the situations to be able to turn the match around,” said Azarenka. “I just didn’t commit enough, and that’s on me.”

“When I was 4-0 up in the first set, my nerves came a little bit,” Kerber explained. “I was feeling it. It was close that it was 4-4. I was able to do the 5-3 in the first set, so that was a really important moment in the first set.

“Then I was just trying, you know, to focus on my game, to be aggressive, to be the player who makes the winners and who is going for it. I was not thinking too much about the score, I was just trying to focusing more to play a good match, to play my game like I played in the practice. That was the whole time until the last point in my mind.”

Azarenka hit 33 unforced errors in the match while Kerber broke Azarenka’s serve six times.

“I think I was a little bit too flat today,” said the former No. 1. “I obviously didn’t start great. For me personally, it was a little bit 10% not enough of everything.

“My footwork didn’t have enough. My shots didn’t have enough. I felt I did a little bit too many unforced errors in the key moments. I created a lot of opportunities, but then I was not enough on my opportunities. I didn’t take them. I had plenty.

“You know, that’s not going to win matches in quarterfinals. You have to bring it, and I didn’t.”

Kerber will play Great Britain’s Johanna Konta in the semifinals. She beat Shuai Zhang 6-4, 6-1 in the later quarterfinal match.

“It doesn’t matter against who I’m playing in the semis,” Kerber said. “I mean, who is in the semis played very good four matches actually, or five matches. I think I will just try to focusing on my game, as well. I mean, I will try to not thinking against who I’m playing. I will just try to focusing like today, to be aggressive, more focusing on my game, and then let’s see how far I can get here.”

“I’m in the right direction,” Azarenka said. “I just need to keep going that way and work harder, be as professional as I am. I don’t feel that I’ve done anything wrong in my preparation. It’s just today I didn’t push myself enough.”

Konta’s victory makes her the first British woman to reach the final four of a major since 1984. Konta, who is making her debut in the main draw in Melbourne will see her ranking move into the Top 30. She’ll be the first British woman in the Top 30 since Laura Robson in July 2013. A year ago the Sydney-born Brit was 144th in the world.

She upset No. 8 Venus Williams in the first round and knocked out former Australian Open semifinalist 21st seed Ekaterina Makarova in the round of 16.

Konta stopped a seven-match win streak of Zhang, going back to the beginning of the qualifying tournament. Zhang had not won a match at a major coming into the Australian Open, she’s now 4-14.

“It will be my first match against her,” Konta said of her semifinal match-up against Kerber. “She’s top 10. She’s an incredibly decorated and successful competitor and player. I’m just going to go out there and bring to the court what I can.”

“I mean, whether you’re the favorite or the underdog, I think that’s very much a circumstantial thing outside of the match that I’m playing. I don’t really think about that. It’s neither here nor there for me.

“For me it’s just about going into every match and being very clear on what I want to achieve out there and being very processor orientated and sticking to my beliefs and really the not judging myself on the results that come.

“Just really make sure that I give my best out there.”

The other semifinalists which were determined on Tuesday, are six-time champion Serena Williams and Agnieszka Radwanska.

The women’s semifinals will be played on Thursday.

On the men’s side of the draw – in addition to Great Britain having a women’s semifinalist, it also has a men’s. No. 2 seed Andy Murray stopped No. 8 seed David Ferrer 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-3 to reach his 6th final four in Melbourne in the last seven years.

Joining Murray in his semifinal will be Milos Raonic. Raonic became the first Canadian to get to this stage at the Australian Open. Raonic defeated No. 23 Gael Monfils 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Murray has a 3-3 record against Raonic.

 

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Konta Becomes First British Woman to Reach Australian Open Quarterfinals in 32 Years: Keys Loses

 

(January 25, 2016) Johanna Konta’s Australian Open run continued on Monday, when the world No. 47 came back to knock out 21st seed Ekaterina Makarova 4-6, 6-4, 8-6 to reach the quarterfinals. Konta became the first British woman to reach the elite 8 of a major since Jo Durie did it in 1983.

Konta, making her Australian Open debut this year, upset No. 8 Venus Williams in the first round.

The Sydney-born Konta served for the match twice – she was broken at 5-4, but held her nerve and her serve to win 8-6 in the final set.

Konta came into Melbourne ranked 47th in the world.

Konta hit 37 winners in the match.

“Mentally, emotionally, physically…. I left it all out there, ” Konta said in her on-court interview.

“I’m going to eat and sleep, eat and sleep and repeat,” Konta said of her next match.

“I really enjoyed the match for what it was,” Konta told media. “It was a very high-level match against a very, very good player. I took it as such.

“I didn’t put any more on it. It was definitely one of the more spectacular matches I’ve played. There have been a few. I still remember a junior match I played and I lost 12-10 in the third. That’s definitely still in my mind.

“In my adult career it was, yeah, one of the memorable ones.”

Konta will play Shaui Zhang in her quarterfinal.

“I played Zhang a couple of times,” Konta said. “Actually both times were very good matches. I’ve never played Madison before.

“I mean, we’re talking about a quarterfinal of a Grand Slam, so whoever I’m going to play it’s going to be an incredibly good player. Right now I’m just looking forward to just recovering well and having a good night’s rest.

“Whoever I’m playing, prepare to the best of my ability.”

“This journey started when I was about eight years old, so we’re coming up to 18 years now,” said the British woman.

“I’ve always said I do not believe in kind of a light switch moment. Everything happens for a reason. My journey has been the way it has been for a reason. That’s to accumulate the experiences that I’ve had.

“I cannot give you a moment where I said, Oh, yeah, that’s where it started, because it’s been ongoing ever since I started playing.”

Shuai Zhang continued her run in Melbourne which began in the qualifying tournament. Zhang defeated a hobbled Madison Keys 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 to reach the final eighth.

Keys had to take a medical time out in the second set for an upper leg injury which had to be heavily taped. After that, the American’s movement was hampered.

The 133rd-ranked Zhang came into this year’s Australian Open 0-14 in majors.

“It’s so tough to play against someone injury because, yeah, when I’m saw her like feel more pain,” Zhang said. “You know, so tough. Maybe two point you feeling like cannot play, and then next three balls, pong, pong, pong, make two ace, one winner. So, so tough. You don’t know what’s happen.

“And also last year this happen many times. I’m almost win the match. I lost. I lost the concentrate. But this time I think I try to concentrate. So I’m happy I win the match, yeah.”

 

 

Related articles:

Qualifier Zhang’s Run Continues into Fourth Round of the Australian Open

Qualifier Zhang Shuai Topples Second Seed Simona Halep at Australian Open

Johanna Konta Upsets No. 8 Venus Williams in First Round of the Australian Open

 

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Third Seed Muguruza Ousted, Azarenka Advances at Australian Open

(January 23, 2016) Wimbledon finalist Garbine Muguruza became the latest upset victim among the top women’s seeds at the Australian Open on Saturday. The third seed lost 6-3, 6-2 lost to world No. 48 Barbora Strycova.

“Clearly not my best, for sure,” said the Spaniard who made 32 unforced errors in the third round match. “I think today is a very bad day, you know, at the office.”

“I just couldn’t find the court, my shots. Yeah. Didn’t really find my game.”.

For the Czech Strycova, she’s reached the fourth round only once before in her career – when she earned a place in the 2014 Wimbledon quarterfinals.

“I will enjoy myself first because I beat No. 3 in the world,” she said.

“What went well? I think everything. No, I was serving very well, and the plan was like to play my game, mix it a little bit, but to play deep.

“And it’s not easy against Garbine, because she plays fast and also very deep. Today I think she didn’t have the best day and I felt good on court, and that’s why I think I won today. That I felt pretty well in hitting the ball so good.”

Next for the Czech will be two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka, who defeated 18-year-old qualifier Naomi Osaka 6-1, 6-1.

“I will go to that match with confident,” Strycova said. “I don’t know. I have to play my best tennis and to mix it and try to somehow win and focus on every point.

“But Victoria is very, very good. I saw her hitting some balls yesterday and she’s hitting the ball very well. But we don’t know how it goes. She is 1-All in the first set.

“If I play her, I will just enjoy myself and try to do my best and like I did today.”

Azarenka hit 24 winners against Osaka who came into the main draw as a qualifier.

“It wasn’t easy for sure, especially when you don’t know who you play.”

“She’s a little unpredictable and she surprised me with her game.”
The bottom half of the women’s draw has been decimated with upsets leaving No. 7 Angelique Kerber as the highest-ranked player left.

No. 47 Johanna Konta, who upset No. 8 Venus Williams in the first round, continued her run in Melbourne. She became the first British woman to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open since1987, with her 6-2, 6-2 win over Denisa Allertova 6-2, 6-2.

The Sydney-born Konta became a British citizen in 2012. She’ll face No. 21-seeded Ekaterina Makarova who knocked out No. 9 seed Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 6-2 . Makarova reached the semifinals last year.

Konta defeated Makarova in their only meeting last year.

“I mean, again, like I always say, you know, new day, new match,” Konta said. “The only thing I can go into the match with is I know she’s left handed, and I have obviously seen her on the other end of the court.

“But in terms of circumstances and scenarios, we are at a completely different venue, different surface, different time of the year.

“So I’m really just going to focus on, again, things on my end and see where the match takes me.”

On the men’s side Milos Raonic continues to advance under the radar. The Canadian defeated Viktor Troicki 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 to reach the fourth round.

He dedicated his win to the victims of a shooting incident at La Loche Community School in Saskatchewan in which four people were killed.

“Unfortunately in Saskatchewan in a very small community there was a shooting at a high school, so I want to take a moment and give thoughts to that community. Today’s victory was for that community, and a quick recovery and all of Canada, and I’m sure the world is behind you.”

No. 10 seed John Isner pounded 44 aces past 18th seed Feliciano Lopez to avenge a loss to the Spaniard back in 2012, with a 6-7(8), 7-6(5), 6-2, 6-4 win.

“It’s a big win,” Isner said. “It’s a very tough opponent, especially for me, the way he plays. It certainly has given me trouble before in the past.

“Also been a little while since I’ve been in the Round of 16 at this tournament. It feels great. I’m very relieved to get through, want to keep on going.”

The victory puts the American in the round of 16 for just the second time in Melbourne. He also achieved that milestone in 2010.

“I’m proud of the fact that I was able to, especially in the third and fourth sets, play some very good tennis. Really I went out there and I had a game plan and executed it very well in the third and fourth sets.

“Not in the first two sets, which is why I was frustrated out there at times. A lot of things I focused on about this match. I did some of them very well. I’m proud of that. You know, I was very well-prepared, so it’s a good feeling to get through.”

He’ll play No. 8 seed David Ferrer for a chance to reach the quarterfinals.

“My last match in 2015 he beat me, as well, in Paris,” Isner said of Ferrer. I’ve got to play aggressive. I mean, he’s going to want to get on top of that baseline and move me around all day. He’s not going to get tired. We all know that.”

 

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Johanna Konta Upsets No. 8 Venus Williams in First Round of the Australian Open

Johanna Konta_270915

(January 19, 2016) Venus Williams became the highest seed knocked out of the first round of the Australian Open on Tuesday. The American, who was the eighth seed, lost 6-4, 6-2 to Great Britain’s Johanna Konta ranked 47th in the world. Williams reached the quarterfinals in Melbourne last year.

“I’m very satisfied with how I dealt with the situation,” the 23-year-old Konta said of her Australian Open main draw debut. “It was hot out there. I was playing an incredibly great player. That’s no secret.

“Yeah, no, and I definitely played a good level and obviously it’s always nerve-wracking to be able to continue that and, you know, there is ebbs and flows in a match. Yeah, no, I’m happy with the whole match in general.”

Konta lost to the 34-year-old Williams in three sets in the Wuhan quarterfinals in the fall.

The former No. 1 Williams had her upper left thigh wrapped and seemed to move around the court as well as she normally does.

Williams was broken in the third game of the first set and Konta won the first set in 41 minutes.

The British woman, born in Australia, raced out to a 5-0 lead in the second set and served for the match. Williams won the next two games.

Konta was asked about getting nervous at the point of trying to close out the seven-time major champion.Tensing, I wouldn’t say so, but obviously there are nerves, and also the nerves of the many thousand people around you, which is impossible not to feel either,” she said.

“So just really focusing on my breathing and just trying to stay very present. Just very much staying with the work at hand, because it’s never is over until you’re shaking hands.

“Yeah, with that mindset, I just try to keep fighting and keep running down every ball.”

“I think it would be silly to look at Venus’ age and somehow consider that as a reflection of her level,” Konta said. “I think it’s irrelevant how old she is because she’s such a champion with so much experience and so much knowledge about the game.

“Even if she’s playing with one leg out there, you’ve got to really take care of things on your own, because, yeah, no, she’s an incredible player. I have all the respect for her in the world. Yeah, I was just very, really enjoying my time out there.”

Konta surged in the rankings last year, where she was 147th in the world at this time last year. She’s now 4-2 against Top Ten players.

Konta advances to the second round where she will play the winner of the Carina Witthoeft versus Saisai Zhang match.

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British Qualifier Johanna Konta Stuns No. 2 Simona Halep at Wuhan Open

Johanna Konta_270915

(September 30, 2015) British qualifier Johanna Konta earned herself a thrilling 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 win over top seed and current World No.2 Simona Halep at the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open on Wednesday.

Konta came from 1-5 down in the third set to tee up a quarter-final on Thursday against Venus Williams and said afterwards that playing the American would be “kind of a childhood dream”.

“She (Halep) is No. 2 for a reason, and that is an incredibly humbling experience for me, that I can compete with such a player,” said 24-year-old Konta. “But in terms of the result, I’m just really happy I get to come back tomorrow and play against someone like Venus. It’s actually a bit of childhood dream I guess. I grew up watching Venus.  So as a child, I’m like, Wow.  But as a competitor now, I’m just looking forward to the challenge.”

Williams was too strong for Carla Suarez-Navarro in their third round encounter. “We’ve had some great matches, and when I play her I always have to stay concentrated because she’s a great competitor who’s always played well against me,” said Williams. “It’s not just her single handed backhand, she just hits it so well. I was lucky because she missed a few today and gave me some openings.”

Roberta Vinci is keep up her form which saw her reach the US Open final earlier this month. She knocked out Wuhan’s defending champion Petra Kvitova with a 76(3) 62 and takes on Karolina Pliskova in Thursday’s quarter-finals.

Wimbledon finalist Garbine Muguruza earned her quarter-final spot with a 46 61 60 comeback win against Ana Ivanovic and can now look forward to a last eight meeting with Anna Schmeidlova of Slovakia on Thursday.

Angelique Kerber wasted no time in dispatching Camila Giorgi and will be up against Coco Vandeweghe in the quarter-finals.

RESULTS – SEPTEMBER 30, 2015
Singles – Third Round
[Q] J. Konta (GBR) d [1] S. Halep (ROU) 63 36 75
[15] R. Vinci (ITA) d [3] P. Kvitova (CZE) 76(3) 62
[5] G. Muguruza (ESP) d [9] A. Ivanovic (SRB) 46 61 60
[6] A. Kerber (GER) d C. Giorgi (ITA) 62 64
V. Williams (USA) d [7] C. Suárez Navarro (ESP) 63 64
[8] K. Pliskova (CZE) d [12] E. Svitolina (UKR) 26 64 64
A. Schmiedlova (SVK) d K. Mladenovic (FRA) 64 62
C. Vandeweghe (USA) d B. Strycova (CZE) 36 62 76(3)

Doubles – Second Round
I. Begu (ROU) / M. Niculescu (ROU) d [3] C. Garcia (FRA) / K. Srebotnik (SLO) 62 62
[5] R. Kops-Jones (USA) / A. Spears (USA) d X. Han (CHN) / N. Melichar (USA) 46 61 10-7
[6] A. Hlavackova (CZE) / L. Hradecka (CZE) d C. Dellacqua (AUS) / A. Tomljanovic (CRO) walkover
[7] G. Muguruza (ESP) / C. Suárez Navarro (ESP) d A. Kudryavtseva (RUS) / O. Savchuk (UKR) 76(3) 62

ORDER OF PLAY – THURSDAY, OCTOBER 01, 2015
CENTRE COURT start 11:00 am
[6] A. Hlavackova (CZE) / L. Hradecka (CZE) vs G. Dabrowski (CAN) / A. Rosolska (POL)

Not Before 1:00 pm
[15] R. Vinci (ITA) vs [8] K. Pliskova (CZE)
[5] G. Muguruza (ESP) vs A. Schmiedlova (SVK)

Not Before 6:30 pm
[Q] J. Konta (GBR) vs V. Williams (USA)
[6] A. Kerber (GER) or C. Giorgi (ITA) vs C. Vandeweghe (USA) or B. Strycova (CZE)

COURT 1 start 1:00 pm
[1] M. Hingis (SUI) / S. Mirza (IND) vs K. Jans-Ignacik (POL) / A. Rodionova (AUS) 12
after suitable rest – J. Goerges (GER) / K. Pliskova (CZE) vs A. Medina Garrigues (ESP) / A. Parra Santonja (ESP)
after suitable rest – [1] M. Hingis (SUI) / S. Mirza (IND) or K. Jans-Ignacik (POL) / A. Rodionova (AUS) vs [5] R. Kops-Jones (USA) / A. Spears (USA)

COURT 4 start 1:00 pm
[4] H. Chan (TPE) / Y. Chan (TPE) vs L. Kichenok (UKR) / N. Kichenok (UKR) 54
after suitable rest – [7] G. Muguruza (ESP) / C. Suárez Navarro (ESP) vs I. Begu (ROU) / M. Niculescu (ROU)
after suitable rest – [4] H. Chan (TPE) / Y. Chan (TPE) or L. Kichenok (UKR) / N. Kichenok (UKR) vs J. Goerges (GER) / K. Pliskova (CZE) or A. Medina Garrigues (ESP) / A. Parra Santonja (ESP)

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