January 21, 2017

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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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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