September 3, 2015

Serena Williams Advances Easily While Fourth Seed Nishikori Falls on Day 1 of US Open

SerenaWilliamsFaceoff6

(August 31, 2015) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Last year’s US Open men’s finalist and fourth seed Kei Nishikori lost in the first round on Monday while several women’s seeds tumbled out on the first day of Flushing Meadows.

No such drama for the No. 1 seed Serena Williams seeking the US Open to complete a calendar Grand Slam. She moved a step closer to history with an easy win over 86th ranked Vitalia Diatchenko of Russia who retired from the match trailing 6-0, 2-0. She said that she felt a sharp pain hitting a backhand during a point.

“It was definitely different and bizarre,” the 33-year-old Williams said. “But at the same time, I was still focused. I kept thinking: Just stay focused; don’t lose it. You never know what can happen.”

Williams march to completing the first Grand Slam since 1988 seems to have been made easier when a deluge of seeds from her half of the draw lost. They included: No. 3 Maria Sharapova who withdrew on Sunday with an injured right leg, No. 7 Ana Ivanovic, No. 8 Karolina Pliskova and No. 10 Carla Suarez Navarro, No. 21 Jelena Jankovic, No. 29 Sloane Stephens (who beat Williams in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open in 2013) and No. 30 Svetlana Kuznetsova.

The 21-time major champion will play the Netherlands Kiki Bertens. “I think she’s playing well, Williams said. “She does a lot of things well. She has a big serve. It’s definitely something that I look forward to. See what happens.”

“I’m not a person that usually looks at the draws,” Williams said. “I just take it as it comes and as it goes.”

Kei Nishikori was the only shock on the men’s side when the fourth seed fell to France’s Benoit Paire Nishikori’s 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6 (6), 6-4 despite having two match points in the fourth set tiebreak.

“It’s very sad to lose always first round, but I think he was playing good tennis,” Nishikori said. “So, I mean, I don’t think I played bad. Didn’t play great, but still, it’s never easy first match. He’s a good player.

“You know, try to think about next one, and I hope I can come back strong next year.”

“Today for me, when I come on court I know I can beat Nishikori,” Paire said. “I place twice time; I lost two time, but very tough match.

“So when I come on the court, I say, come on. You can beat Kei. He has a game — it’s not like if I play against Roger Federer. For me it’s different because he has good serve.

“Against Kei I know I can play, and for sure some volleys. For me it’s important because I know I don’t put a lot of pressure on myself. I say, Okay, for sure you can break him.

“So the most important thing is to feel good and to have fun. I think today that’s the most important thing.”

The man Nishikori lost to in last year’s final had few problems in his 6-3, 7-6, 7-6 win.

“I think this tournament is giving me the best chance to play the best over here,” Marin Cilic said. Even before last year, in the past years I was always playing pretty well and reached few times quarterfinals. Even in those matches had some chances. Close to making it to the semis.

“Coming this year again is definitely very special moment for me in my whole career. This experience of, you know, defending the Grand Slam title for the first time is something that I’m going to learn for sure a lot from.”

No. 1 Novak Djokovic destroyed  Brazil’s Joao Souza 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 in 71 minutes.

“I couldn’t ask for a better opening of this year’s US Open,” Djokovic said.” Hopefully I can continue in that rhythm.”

Sixteenth seed Gael Monfils retired from his match with a back against Illya Marchenko while trailing 2-6, 6-4, 5-0, 30-0.

Eighth seed Rafael Nadal, playing in the Flushing Meadows for the first time since 2013, beat teenager Borna Coric 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 in second night match on Arthur Ashe Stadium. “Very happy to be back,” Nadal said, “and to be through.”

“I think I played great. The first two sets I played a very high level of tennis. Seriously, then I get a little bit tired. I had some problems. I was sweating a lot. I lost little bit — you know, I don’t feel enough strong after that, no?

“I had little bit of stomach problem so I felt not perfect, physically perfect then.

“But then in the fourth I recovered little bit. I played again more aggressive. Finally was important victory for me. Happy the way that I played when I was, you know, physically good.”

RESULTS – AUGUST 31, 2015
Women’s
Singles – First Round

(1) Serena Williams (USA) d. Vitalia Diatchenko (RUS) 60 20 retired (Left ankle injury)
Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) d. (7) Ana Ivanovic 63 36 63
(Q) Anna Tatishvili (USA) d. (8) Karolina Pliskova 62 61
Denisa Allertova (CZE) d. Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) 61 76(5)
(12) Belinda Bencic (SUI) d. Sesil Karatantcheva (BUL) 61 62
(13) Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) d. Teliana Pereira (BRA) 63 63
(15) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) d. Katerina Siniakova (CZE) 62 63
(17) Elina Svitolina (UKR) d. (Q) Elizaveta Kulichkova (RUS) 61 64
(18) Madison Keys (USA) d. Klara Koukalova (CZE) 62 64
(WC) Oceane Dodin (FRA) d. (21) Jelena Jankovic (SRB) 26 75 63
(23) Venus Williams (USA) d. Monica Puig (PUR) 64 67(7) 63
(25) Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) d. Alison Riske (USA) 64 63
CoCo Vandeweghe (USA) d. (29) Sloane Stephens (USA) 64 63
Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) d. (30) Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) 63 75
(31) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) d. Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK) 64 75
(Q) Kiki Bertens (NED) d. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (CRO) 36 64 62
(WC) Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) d. (Q) Kateryna Kozlova (UKR) 64 63
Tereza Smitkova (CZE) d. Andreea Mitu (ROU) 76(4) 62
Magda Linette (POL) d. Urszula Radwanska (POL) 76(3) 61
Misaki Doi (JPN) d. Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) 63 63
Irina Falconi (USA) d. (WC) Samantha Crawford (USA) 64 62
(Q) Anett Kontaveit (EST) d. Casey Dellacqua (AUS) 75 62
Madison Brengle (USA) d. Saisai Zheng 62 57 75
(LL) Daria Kasatkina (RUS) d. Daria Gavrilova (AUS) 62 46 75
Ana Konjuh (CRO) d. Tatjana Maria (GER) 64 64
Bojana Jovanovski (SRB) d. Lara Arruabarrena (ESP) 62 62
Kaia Kanepi (EST) d. Anna-Lena Friedsam (GER) 61 61
Lauren Davis (USA) d. Heather Watson (GBR) 76(3) 76(0)
Roberta Vinci (ITA) d. Vania King (USA) 64 64
Mariana Duque-Marino (COL) d. (WC) Sofia Kenin (USA) 63 61
Polona Hercog (SLO) d. Zarina Diyas (KAZ) 62 75
(Q) Jessica Pegula (USA) d. Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) 75 63

Men’s singles

Novak Djokovic (SRB) [1] d. Joao Souza (BRA) 61 61 61
Benoit Paire (FRA) d. Kei Nishikori (JPN) [4] 64 36 46 76(6) 64 – saved 2 MP
Marin Cilic (CRO) [9] d. Guido Pella (ARG) 63 76(3) 76(3)
Milos Raonic (CAN) [10] d. Tim Smyczek (USA) 64 76(8) 61
David Goffin (BEL) [14] d. Simone Bolelli (ITA) 64 61 62
Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) [17] d. Matthew Ebden (AUS) 64 62 64
Feliciano Lopez (ESP) [18] d. Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) 76(5) 61 63
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) [19] d. Jarkko Nieminen (FIN) 63 61 61
Andreas Seppi (ITA) [25] d. Tommy Paul (USA) 64 60 75
Tommy Robredo (ESP) [26] d. Michael Berrer (GER) 62 62 64
Jeremy Chardy (FRA) [27] d. Ryan Shane (USA) 62 61 67(6) 62
Mardy Fish (USA) d. Marco Cecchinato (ITA) 67(5) 63 61 63
Fernando Verdasco (ESP) d. Tommy Haas (GER) 36 61 67(3) 63 61
Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) d. Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE) 63 63 30 ret.
Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR) d. John Millman (AUS) 61 36 76(3) 64
Marcel Granollers (ESP) d. Lukas Lacko (SVK) 62 63 61
Evgeny Donskoy (RUS) d. Lucas Pouille (FRA) 62 67(3) 62 64
Marsel Ilhan (TUR) d. Radek Stepanek (CZE) 60 26 64 32 ret,
Ricardas Berankis (LTU) d. Joao Sousa (POR) 62 62 46 26 76(4)

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News at the US Open

 

 

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Top US Open Seeds Meet the Media in Flushing Meadows

(August 29, 2015) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY) The top seeds at the 2015 US Open met the media on Saturday ahead of Monday’s start of the last major of the year.

Third seed Andy Murray and second seed Simona Halep spoke to the media in the relaxed setting of Media Garden located behind Arthur Ashe stadium.

Murray was asked about playing the controversial Nick Kyrgios in the first round, which is projected to be a very competitive match for the Scotsman.

“For me it’s just a tennis match,” Murray said. “I go about the match in the best way possible by getting all the things, getting all the tactics, and everything sorted and you know, tailor my practices the next few days around his game style and that’s what I’ll be doing. You don’t obviously pay attention to the other stuff.”

Murray talked about past match-ups with the Australian. Murray holds a 3-0 record against his challenger.

“Every match is a new match. You can learn, obviously, from those previous matches, see what things worked and what things didn’t, but he might come in and do something completely different against me next time, so I need to be prepared for that. He’s quite an unpredictable player so you need to expect that when you go on the court.

Yeah I’ve played well against him, I played good matches, but he’s obviously a top player, you know, just missed out in a seeding here and I’m sure he’ll be one of the top players here in the next few years.

On playing Kyrgios at the US Open: “To be honest, I think he likes playing on big stages. That’s where he’s played his best tennis throughout his career. Last year he’d only won one or two matches outside of Slams in the whole year. This year, his results have been inconsistent but at the Slams he made quarters. In Australia, I played him in the third round at the French and at Wimbledon he was close to reaching the quarters again there. I would expect him to be ready for the match. He gets himself fired up for the big events.”

Simona Halep

Simona Halep

For Romania’s Simona Halep, despite a recent left knee problem, she’s really to go.

“Now, I’m feeling great; I’ve recovered and I’m ready to start.”

“I think in the past I didn’t believe that I had the chance to do great here. Now, I’m feeling better and I’m feeling more confident. I had two great weeks before here and I think it’s going to help me. I’m just going to enjoy it and I’m not going to think about the pressure.

“Actually, I play well when there’s pressure, but not too much.”

Asked she wanted Serena Williams to win the Grand She said:

“If I will not be in the finals, then I want her to win. If I’m in the finals with her, then I want to win.

“I said that because she has a big chance to win all four Grand Slams this year. I think she has enough power to do that, but of course I want to win. I just want to take it match-by-match.

 

The Media Day interviews moved over to Media Interview Room One as last year’s US Open finalist Kei Nishikori took on the press.

“I think from last year this time I kind of stepped one up and I raised my level after this tournament, so I’m very happy with everything this year. Especially this summer I’ve been playing really well, from Washington and Montreal. I unfortunately got hurt and couldn’t play Cincinnati but still I feel very good physically and also tennis-wise, so very exciting, and it’s going to be a big challenge for me to play this year, again, but I’m very confident.”

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic entered his news conference with a stuffed animal Mickey Mouse, which he sat on the desk.

The Serb is really to take on New York. “Generally I have huge incentive and motivation to play US Open as any other Grand Slam, Djokovic said.”
“These are the events where you want to perform your best. These are the events
where you want to go far and compete for the title. Just being here is a pleasure and of
course as anybody else, I’m excited and looking forward to getting on the court”
Djokovic is coming into the US Open aiming to win his third major of the  year. He won three majors in 2011.
He compared his game in 2011 to now:
“I’m a different person, a different player today than I was in 2011, so it’s kind of hard to
compare tennis-wise. I think physically I’m stronger and I’m able to endure longer than I did in 2011 and maybe there are some slight differences in the game, but generally as you grow older you’re kind of maturing and you’re trying to develop your game and get your game to the highest possible level. I think this season, results-wise (is) pretty close to 2011. What I achieved in 2011 is hard to repeat, so this season is definitely just behind that one. But I don’t usually like to compare myself to any other season because every season brings some new challenges at both professional and private levels so it’s pretty different.”
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Roger Federer is coming off a title in Cincinnati where he played a more aggressively, beating Djokovic in the final, and in some matches returning serves from just behind the service line. The Swiss was asked about this aggressive style game.

“It all starts with the serve, to be quite honest,” Federer said.

If you’re able to hold your serve, I don’t want to say you can do pretty much anything on the return, but chances are it’s in your favor. You don’t know if you’re going to hold most of the serves, but I did that very well last week, so I’m sure that’s where the service helped me, but … after that, as the tournament went on, I decided to keep up aggressive play because it didn’t just start against Murray and Djokovic, I had already been doing it against Bautista and also Kevin Anderson, so from that standpoint I was very happy that I was able to keep it up.”

“If I’m going to do it here, as well, at practice so far conditions definitely allow you to do. I think the ball flies faster here. The surface is slightly different than last week, so a slight adjustment to be done there. I’m just really focused on my first round. It’s really tough to be playing Leonardo Mayer, so I have to come back to reality after the good week I had last week and go from there.”

Federer, a five-time winner at the US Open, last made a final in 2009. He has not come close since and was asked about it.

“On the run I was on, to ‘08 and even ‘09, in the finals, clearly I was hoping for it to be endless, but you know that’s not realistic, and ’10 and ’11 were tough matches in the semis against Novak, “Federer said. “So I came very close.”

“Clearly my focus needs to be not trying to win the tournament right away, that’d be thinking too far ahead. I haven’t been in a finals in this tournament as of late. I came close, but close is not good enough. I’ve tried to build up as we move forward.”

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal comes into Flushing Meadows ranked the lowest he’s been in many years at No. 8. The Spaniard will face a rising star on the ATP tour in Borna Coric in his first round.

“He’s a tough player,” Nadal said. “He’s a young player with a lot of energy and he’s a big competitor. He’s one of the players that is the future of our sport, so it’s a tough one, but I’m playing well. I feel like I’m ready. He’s a complete player with a great serve and a very good backhand. He’s a big competitor. I don’t remember playing him before. It was a tough week for me; I had the surgery the week after. I don’t remember it very well, but I think I played very bad. If he played well then he deserved to win, but hopefully Monday will be a different story.

Nadal says that he’s coming into the tournament with not as much stress.

‘My stress is much less than it was at the beginning of the season,” said the two-time US Open champion. I’m feeling better

myself. As a tennis player, I’m feeling better today than I was a couple of months ago. I’ve worked a lot these last couple of months.

“I know the process; It’s a challenge for me. to find the level of play that I’ve been at a lot of times in my career. I’m practicing great, now it’s time to play that great against the competition. The level of tennis is very close to being back there.”

On getting his confidence back, Nadal said: “To have the confidence back you need to win. If you’re not winning, then you won’t have high confidence. To win you need to play well. To win a lot you need to play very well and have a lot of confidence, and I’m playing well today.”

Nadal also clarified to press that he did not refuse to play with or against Nick Kyrgios in a charity exhibition for John McEnroe’s foundation.

“I was never supposed to play a doubles match,” Nadal explained. “First, I was only supposed to play singles in the exhibition. That was wrong information. Second, I never knew I had to play against Kyrgios; I was told I was going to play Lleyton Hewitt. No one asked me to play doubles with Nick Kyrgios. I was only asked to play a singles match; since Roland Garros I knew that. This story that I was supposed to play a doubles match? I don’t know where that story comes from.”

Sharapova 382014 IW

Maria Sharapova is coming back from a muscle strain in her leg which kept her out of Cincinnati and Toronto.

“It’s always just the adjustment of being a professional athlete in a sport that requires many weeks out of the year to compete ata high level,” said the 2006 US Open champion. “Don’t always know where some things come from but sometimes you have to make adjustments to be healthy and ready for the big ones. I’ve had to make adjustments throughout the year and it only gets tougher as you get older, of course”

 

Asked about her preparation for the US Open, the Russian said: I’ve done everything I could to be ready. There’s nothing more that I could have done, so yeah, I hope to be ready.”

 

Sharapova faces a test in her first round match-up against countrywoman Daria Gavrilova who beat her in Miami.

“Well, obviously she’s a really great player and a tough first round we’ve gone back and forth with our results this year,” Sharapova said. “She beat me in Miami and I had a good win against her in Rome so yeah, she’s a really good opponent.”

 

Serena Williams held her pre-US Open news conference after the draw on Thursday.

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama at the US Open

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Kei Nishikori Withdraws from Western & Southern Open; Results and Schedule

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(August 16, 2015) World No. 4 Kei Nishikori with drew from the Western & Southern Open

due a left hip injury.
“I kind of got hurt last week in Montreal, in my match against Andy (Murray),” Nishikori said. “I played five matches in Washington and played four matches in Montreal, and I was a little bit tired in my body. My hip was bothering me, so I couldn’t really play and could barely finish the match. It’s very unfortunate to pull out here, but I had a good two tournaments, so I’m very happy with my tennis.”

“It’s kind of new. I’ve never had this before. My leg was sore the last couple of days. Yesterday it got a little bit worse. Unfortunately, I couldn’t play here, but it was a good decision for me.”

“I’m sure it’s going to be OK. I think it’s going to take one week or so. I’m going to try to get good recovery here this week and I hope I can play good again in the US Open.”

RESULTS – Sunday, August 16
ATP Main Draw – First Round

Martin Klizan (Slovakia) d. Dominic Thiem (Austria) 76(5) 36 76(4)
[16] Grigor Dimitrov (Bulgaria) d. Lukas Rosol (Czech Republic) 62 36 63

ATP Doubles – First Round
Pablo Cuevas (Uruguay) & David Marrero (Spain) vs Feliciano Lopez (Spain) & Max Mirnyi (Belarus)
Please find result on wsopen.com or on the WS Open Now App

ATP Qualifying – Final Round
[13] Denis Kudla (USA) d. [1] Benoit Paire (France) 64 64
[8] Nicolas Mahut (France) d. [2] Steve Johnson (USA) 62 64
[3] Vasek Pospisil (France) d. [11] Hyeon Chung 67(4) 60 63
[9] Alexander Dolgopolov (Ukraine) d. [6] Santiago Giraldo (Colombia) 36 63 64
Alexander Zverev (Germany) d. [10] Dennis Istomin (Uzbekistan) 62 36 63
[12] Thanasi Kokkinakis (Australia) d. Marsel Ilhan (Turkey) 64 26 64
[14] Yen-Hsun Lu (Taipei) def. Mikhail Youzhny (Russia) 26 62 64
WTA Qualifying – Final Round
[2] Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (Slovakia) d. Olga Govortsova (Belarus) 64 62
[14] Casey Dellacqua (Australia) d. [6] Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (Germany) 64 26 63
[10] Lucie Hradecka (Czech Republic) d. Tatjana Maria (Germany) 64 64
[11] Christina McHale (USA) d. [18] Polona Hercog (Slovenia) 76 26 64
[12] Mona Barthel (Germany) d. [22] Irina Falconi (USA) 64 61
[13] Julia Goerges (Germany) d. Sesil Karatantcheva (Bulgaria) 64 76(7)
[25] Yulia Putintseva (Russia) d. [20] Kurumi Nara (Japan) 75 1-0 ret.
Timea Babos (Hungary) d. Aliaksandra Sasnovich (Belarus) 76(2) 64
Ana Konjuh (Croatia) d. Misaki Doi (Japan) 57 76(3) 63
Jana Cepelova (Slovakia) d. Kateryna Bonarenko (Ukraine) 63 60
Yaroslava Shvedova (Kazakhstan) d. Mariana Duque-Marino (Colombia) 61 64
Lauren Davis (USA) d. Nicole Gibbs (USA) 76(1), 6-4


ORDER OF PLAY – Monday, August 17
CENTER COURT – Start 11:00am
ATP – Viktor Troicki (Serbia) vs [WC] Mardy Fish (USA)

Not Before 1:00 pm
WTA – Zarina Diyas (Kazakhstan) vs Venus Williams (USA)
ATP – Jerzy Janowicz (Poland) vs [14] Gael Monfils (France)
Night Session – Start 7:00 pm
WTA – Madison Keys (USA) vs [12] Timea Bacsinszky (Switzerland)
ATP – [WC] Bjorn Fratangelo (USA) vs Jack Sock (USA)

Grandstand – Start 11:00 am
ATP – [10] Gilles Simon (France) vs Ivo Karlovic (Croatia)
ATP – [Q] Vasek Pospisil (Canada) vs [Q] Denis Kudla (USA)
Not Before 3:00 pm
WTA – [Q] Yaroslava Shvedova (Kazakhstan) vs [9] Garbiñe Muguruza (Spain)
Not Before 7:00 pm
ATP – Fabio Fognini (Italy) vs [Q] Thanasi Kokkinakis (Australia)
WTA – Arina Rodionova (Australia) & Heather Watson (Great Britain) vs Chai-Jung Chuang (Chinese Tapei) & Su-Wei Hsieh (Chinese Tapei)

Stadium 3 – Start 11:00 am
WTA – Madison Brengle (USA) vs Jelena Jankovic (Serbia)
ATP – Adrian Mannarino (France) vs Andreas Seppi (Italy)
ATP – [Q] Yen-Hsun Lu (Chinese Tapei) vs [13] David Goffin (Belgium)
WTA – [WC] Alison Riske (USA) vs [14] Elina Svitolina (Ukraine)
Not Before 7:00 pm
WTA – Irina-Camelia Begu (Romania) vs Alize Cornet (France)

Court 9 – Start 11:00 am
ATP – Thomaz Bellucci (Brazil) vs Jiri Vesely (Czech Republic)
WTA – [WC] Coco Vandeweghe (USA) vs [Q] Yulia Putintseva (Kazakhstan)
WTA – Samantha Stosur (Australia) vs [Q] Timea Babos (Hungary)
WTA – [15] Andrea Petkovic (Germany) vs [Q] Julia Goerges (Germany)
ATP – Roberto Bautista Agut (Spain) vs Pablo Cuevas (Uruguay)

Court 4 – Start 1:00 pm
ATP – Doubles Showdown (exhibition with top ATP doubles pairs)
ATP – Kevin Anderson (South Africa) & Jeremy Chardy (France) vs Leander Paes (India) & Stan Wawrinka (Switzerland)
ATP – Tomas Berdych (Czech Republic) & [PR] Mardy Fish (USA) vs Raven Klassen (South Africa) & Rajeev Ram (USA)

Court 6 – Start 11:00 am
WTA – Sara Errani (Italy) & Flavia Pennetta (Italy) vs Lara Arruabarrena (Spain) & Andreja Klepac (Slovenia)
ATP – Sergiy Stakhovsky (Ukrain) vs Bernard Tomic (Australia)
ATP – [WC] Jared Donaldson (USA) vs [Q] Nicolas Mahut (France)
WTA – Irina Falconi (USA) & Monica Niculescu (Romania) vs [WC] Christina McHale (USA) & CoCo Vandeweghe (USA) After Suitable Rest

Court 7 – Start 11:00 am
ATP – Joao Sousa (Portugal) vs Philipp Kohlschreiber (Germany)
WTA – Barbora Strycova (Czech Republic) vs Varvara Lepchenko (USA)
WTA – [Q] Lucie Hradecka (Czech Republic) vs Tsvetana Pironkova (Bulgaria)
WTA – [WC] Madison Brengle (USA) & Alexa Glatch (USA) vs Michaella Krajicek (Netherlands) & Barbora Strycova (Czech Republic) After Suitable Rest

Court 10 – Start 12:00 pm
WTA – Karin Knapp (Italy) v [Q] Ana Konjuh (Croatia)
ATP – Gilles Muller (Luxembourg) vs [LL] Benoit Paire
WTA – Karin Knapp (Italy) & Roberta Vinci (Italy) vs Mona Barthel (Germany) & Jarmila Gajdosova (Australia) After Suitable Rest
WTA – [5] Racquel Kops-Jones (USA) & Anastasia Rodionova (Australia) vs Tatjana Maria (Germany) & Olga Savchuk (Ukraine)

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Kei Nishikori and Sloane Stephens Take Citi Open Singles Titles

Sloane Stephens close upKei Nishikori

(August 9, 2015) On Sunday, 2014 U.S. Open finalist, second seed Kei Nishikori rallied to stop hard-serving John Isner 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 to claim his first Citi Open title. Sloane Stephens captured the women’s title in Washington, DC with a 6-1, 6-2 dismissal of Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova match between unseeded players.

For the 25-year-old Japanese player, this was his 10th career title, while for the American, it was her first trophy on the WTA Tour.

“I didn’t make enough inroads on his first serve,” said three-time Washington finalist Isner of his battle against Nishikori. “If you put a decent amount of first serves in the court, he’s arguably the best in the best in the world from the baseline. It’s tough. I thought he served better in the second and third sets. He’s a great player and a great champion.”

“I’m very happy to win after losing the first set,” said Nishikori. “I came back really well so I’m very happy to win today.

“I fought through (after losing the first set for the third time this week). In the first match I was down 7-6 and came back. It’s not easy but mentally I tried to fight every time and I’m happy to win in the final today.”

Nishikori who is 43-9 on the year will move up to No. 4 in the world with the victory, matching his career high.

“I’ll try to keep going,” Nishikori said. “I’ve been playing well.”

Nishikori will move up from No. 5 to No. 4 in Monday’s rankings, equaling his career best.

In the men’s doubles final, Americans Bob and Mike Bryan won their fourth Citi Open title beating Ivan Dodig of Croatia and Marcelo Melo of Brazil 6-4, 6-2 for their 108th career doubles title.

“I think this tournament is really valuable for our confidence, our momentum going into this hard-court summer,” Bob Bryan said. It was nice to get some revenge on a couple of teams we lost to over in Europe. That will help us going into these next three big tournaments and crescendos at the US Open in New York.”

Sloane Stephens

Sloane Stephens

The 22-year-old Stephens, jumped off to a 3-0 lead winning 15 of the first 21 points and never had to look back. This was the first final for the American.

“I just went out there and tried to play the best I could,” Stephens said to media.

“I think I executed my game very well today – it was just a really good day for me.”

“Nothing was given to me. I had to work for everything. It was just nice that all of the hard work and everything I’ve put into it – now I can say that I have a tournament title,”

“It’s great to win this first title – I haven’t even thought about my next goal yet.”

“Last year I was going through a learning process. I learned a lot about myself. And there’s still a lot of room to grow. Sometimes you have to go through the process. To get to this place, to get to this beautiful trophy, I had to go through a lot, but at the end of the day it was definitely worth it.”

Stephens, who was once ranked as high as No. 11 in the world, will move up from No. 35 into the top 30 when the rankings come out on Monday.

The doubles title went to the fourth seeds Belinda Bencic and Kristina Mladenovic over third seeds Lara Arruabarrena and Andreja Klepac, 7-5, 7-6(7).

 

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Kei Nishikori Defends Barcelona Crown

Kei Nishikori

(April 26, 2015) Japan’s Kei Nishikori came back from breaks in both sets to defeat Spain’s Pablo Andujar 6-4, 6-4 to defend his title at the Barcelona Open. This is the second title that the world No. 5 has defended this year, he also repeated in Memphis in February. This is Nishikori’s ninth ATP career title.

 

“I’m really happy I’m able to defend the title,” said Nishikori. “I think the second set was extremely tough and I don’t really know how I won it to be honest. Pablo was very aggressive, he kept moving the ball and made me run up and down all the time. I also tried to be aggressive and I think that’s why I won the important points, but I’d say he played better than me.

“I think this victory on clay and in such a difficult tournament gives me a lot of confidence to face the upcoming competitions. It’s just an amazing feeling to win a title. I have to come back to Barcelona.”

 

“I didn’t look to defend my title, just to play my best. I knew that this was a tough tournament with all the Spanish players. I just tried to play my best and now I am really happy.”

 

“It was a great, high-quality final,” Andujar said. “We were both playing well. I played better in the second set and I felt I deserved something more, but what happened was I let some opportunities pass. I believe that I could have won but here we are. I feel I played my best tennis this week.”

 

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Serena Williams, Djokovic, Suarez Navarro and Isner Advance in Miami

315Serenafh-001

(April 2, 2015) Serena Williams will attempt to win her eighth Miami Open title on Saturday. The 19-time major champion won a two-hour-and seven minute semifinal thriller on Thursday night over third seed Simona Halep 6-2, 4-6, 7-5. Williams will face 12th seed Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain the title.

“I made so many errors and I was like `Serena, just come to the net at this point, because that’s the only thing that was working for me,'” Williams said. “I’m just really happy to get through that. It was actually a really fun match and I was able to come out and play here tonight.”

“I just tried to make some shots and I tried to go for some big shots,” Williams continued. “I thought, I’m just going to go for winners. Even though I’m missing most of them, I’m still going to go for them.”

“I just made more errors than I did in my last match, which I thought was impossible. I’m just not at my best level right now and it’s a little frustrating.

“I’m not serving well. I am serving at 40%. Yeah, so it hasn’t been my best of times. But, yeah, so that’s just the only frustrating part.

“And I’m a perfectionist, so if I don’t get it right I just want to keep trying.”

 

Simona Halep

Simona Halep

Halep said: “I was close. I saw that I can win against her. I can play like until the end against her. I was a bit tired in the end, but it’s normal. I have so many matches played already.

“It’s okay. She was better than me. She is better than me because she’s No. 1 in the world and she’s Serena. I have just to take the positive things from this tournament, this match, and just go ahead.”

Williams’ victory means that her time atop the rankings has reached 116 weeks which surpasses Chris Evert’s 113-week run for third-longest in WTA history.

Suarez Navarro 2182015-001

Suarez Navarro advanced to the final after beating Andrea Petkovic 6-3, 6-3 in an earlier match. Her victory in the semifinal assured her of reaching the Top Ten for the first time in her career.

“I feel so happy,” said Suarez Navarro. “It’s so important for me. I was practicing and I was working during all this year with my team to a moment like this.”

Williams is 4-0 against the Spaniard. “Playing Carla,” said Williams, “I think it’ll be good for me. She’s playing a little bit like Simona, so I will be ready for that. Have to be ready. If I want to win, I have to step it up a notch”

Williams is 4-0 all-time against Suarez Navarro, who’s assured of reaching the Top 10 in the world rankings win or lose.

Williams’ countryman, No. 22 seed John Isner became the first U.S. man to reach the semifinals in Miami since Mardy Fish in 2011, upsetting fourth-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan 6-4, 6-3.

Isner interviewed

“I played extremely well today,” Isner said.”I needed to play well in order to beat a player like Kei and that’s what I did. From start to finish, I felt like I was aggressive. I was playing all the right shots and things just went my way.”

“I can’t ask for better conditions out there,” Isner continued. “I absolutely just can’t.

“You know, with the balls, the court, the balls bouncing high, it’s hot, it’s not that humid so it’s not taking a lot out of me. It’s perfect conditions ore me.

“I just played well. I mean, I’ve been serving well really for a while now, and I did that again today.

“So I was taking care of my serve. I was taking my chances on his serve, and the ball was finding the right spots for me.”

“Serve, I didn’t have any chance,” said Nishikori.

“Also, his forehand, also backhand, he hit some winners from back of the baseline. I think he close his eyes and hitting so many winners. Couldn’t really stop him today.

“So I don’t think I really play bad. Maybe I could do little better everything, but I think he played well today.”

 

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

Next for Isner will be No. 1 Novak Djokovic who defeated David Ferrer 7-5, 7-5 on the Spaniard’s 33rd birthday.

“I expected it to be a very physical match as it always is with David,” Djokovic said. “He’s one of the greatest competitors out there.”

“Every game is different, and I think tonight, my tactic, it was good,” Ferrer said. “My performance was good, playing aggressive with my forehand. But I think it’s difficult beat Nole when I am playing with him in the night because the ball is bigger when we are ending the set. And he has more power than me.

“Anyway, for beat Nole, I know I have to play perfect in important moments, play aggressive. And maybe tonight, the first set in important moments I didn’t play aggressive, no, with my forehand.”

Djokovic commented on playing Isner next:

“It’s going to be quite different match from tonight’s match. John is probably the best server we have in the game currently. At 6’10” he can hit any angle he wants with that serve.

“He won against Dimitrov, Raonic, and Nishikori in the last three matches, and that deserves a lot of respect. He obviously feels very confident playing here. He played great against Nishikori today.

“I think he improved his baseline game. Most of the players, when the play him, obviously he highly relies on his serve, but yet again, he does put a lot of balls back in play in his return games. He likes to run around his backhand and hit the forehand inside out. That’s his favorite shot.

“So I kind of know what to expect. He has his own patterns, as everybody else. I’m going to try to analyze his game, remember what I’ve done right in Indian Wells couple weeks ago, and try to obviously win.

“Hopefully we play during the night so the conditions will be a bit slower, which is going to maybe help me to get few more serves back in play, even though I know it’s going to be very close match.”

 

I’ll have nothing to lose,” Isner said. “I run into him a lot in Masters events, especially in the U.S. I think this would be our fourth encounter or something like that, playing at a Masters event in the States. Maybe fifth. I don’t know.

“But playing him, it’s always a challenge. He’s the greatest player in the world right now hands down. I played well against him last week in Indian Wells and he beat me in a tight two‑set match.

“I’m going to have to bring that level and some if I do play against him. I believe I can do that. Think I exhibited that today. He’s got a tough match against one of the best competitors or sport has.”

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Andy Murray Reaches 500th Win Mark with Victory Over Kevin Anderson at Miami Open

(March 31, 2015) Andy Murray became the ninth player on the ATP World Tour to win 500 career matches with his victory over Kevin Anderson 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 to reach the Miami Open quarterfinals.

The Scot is the 46th player in the Open era with 500 or more wins and the first British player to accomplish this feat.

“It’s nice I think obviously for me the fact that it happened here,” said the two-time Miami Open champion. “It’s just fitting just because I have spent so much time training here and working to get better and to improve. That was nice.

“Yeah, I hope I’ve still got a lot more wins in me. To get to 500 is good. It’s not an easy thing to do at my age. It’s nice. Hopefully I can keep going.”

“I hope for me this isn’t the end and I can keep trying to progress,” he added. With each win you get closer to going past a great player.

“You know, the people that are ahead of me have all done pretty amazing things in the sport, so that’s what’s nice about it. And, yeah, it gives me ‑‑ also feels like it gives me motivation, as well, for some reason.

“I don’t know why, but getting to 500, yeah, it gives me motivation to go on and try and win more. When you look at the list of players and the wins that certain guys have got, it gives you something to aim at, as well.”

No. 3 seed Murray will face off against 21-year-old Dominic Thiem, who reached his first Masters 1000 quarterfinal with a win over No. 28 Adrian Mannarino 7-6 (5), 4-6, 7-5.

“He had his best year on the tour last year,” Murray said. “He’s a very talented guy. He’s strong. I know him fairly well. I practice with him quite a bit. He’s very hard worker. Very good attitude. Very respectful guy. He’s got a very good career ahead of him.

“So I expect tomorrow will be a tough match. He struggled a little bit the beginning part of the year. He changed racquets. “You know, always takes a few months to get used to that. Obviously this week he’s played very well again.”

Also advancing to the quarterfinals were No. 1 Novak Djokovic, No. 4 Kei Nishikori, No. 6 David Ferrer, No. 8 Tomas Berdych, and Juan Monaco.

Djokovic survived a test from Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-7, 7-5, 6-0. Dolgopolov was a point a way from a 7-6, 4-0 lead. Berdych advanced when Gael Monfils retired from the match with a hip injury in the second set.

 

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Kei Nishikori Three-peats at Memphis Open

Kei Nishikori Memphis 2014

(February 15, 2015) Kei Nishikori is the first man to “three-peat” at the Memphis Open, taking his third straight title defeating South African Kevin Anderson 6-4, 6-4 in the final Sunday. For Japan’s Nishikori who is 10-2 this year, he earned his eighth career ATP title.

“I think I am going to move here soon,” Nishikori said during the trophy ceremony.

“It’s (an) amazing feeling because nobody ever done this before at this tournament, so it’s something special,” Nishikori continued. “But, you know, I think I have to do better to keep this, and hopefully I can keep going.”

For Anderson  who regularly practices with Nishikori, he has now has lost six straight finals.

It was a two-set win on Sunday, but the world No. 5 had three three-set battles en route to the final. In his the semifinal, Nishikori outlasted Sam Querrey 5-7, 7-6(5), 7-6(5) in the longest match of the week at two hours, 42 minutes.

Tommy Haas, Todd Martin and Jimmy Connors (twice) all won Memphis titles in back-to-back years. This was just Nishikori’s fourth appearance in Memphis.

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Serena Williams to face Madison Keys in Australian Open Semifinal

Madison Keys

Madison Keys

(January 28, 2015) No. 1 Serena Williams and No. 35 Madison Keys booked spots in Australian Open semifinals on Wednesday. Keys broke up what could have been an “all-Williams” semifinal when the 19-year-old knocked out 34-year-old Venus Williams 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 to reach her first Grand Slam final four.

Serena Williams had a much easier time advancing, dismissing last year’s Australian Open losing finalist Dominika Cibulkova 6-2, 6-2 in 69 minutes, is still on track to try and win her 19th major and sixth Australian Open title.

Statistics tell the story for the world No. 1 American who hit 58 winners including 15 aces and made only 18 unforced errors against the Slovak. Williams has won the title at Melbourne Park each of the five previous times she has advanced to the semifinals.

“I feel I played well,” said Serena. “I felt I had to. I feel like when you’re going up against a player like that who is confident on the court – she just had a few good matches – I knew that I needed to really play well or go home.”

“It was tough match for me today,” No. 11 Cibulkova said. “She was just playing really well today, I have to say. She was putting so much pressure from the serve and return. I didn’t have a chance to play my game. Just felt under so much pressure. It was a good day for her.

“It’s the way I struggle with reading her serves. I just don’t put many first returns in the game. That’s what makes it tough. And also then I feel under a bigger pressure on my serve. That’s why I try to go for much more first serve today. It just didn’t go in. Then my second serve, she was just going for it. Yeah, that’s make it really tough. She tries to make the rallies much shorter and not to get me in the rhythm. Yeah, that’s it.”

In a battle between tennis generations, Venus Williams and Keys, it was the first All-American quarterfinal since Sloane Stephens beat Serena Williams in Melbourne Park back in 2013.

After a dominant first set by Keys, who is now coached by former No. 1 and three-time slam winner Lindsay Davenport, she had to overcome a left leg injury and rally from a break down in the third set to win the match. Keys completed the match with 34 winners to 45 unforced errors, while Venus hit 10 winners to 38 unforced errors. The match saw 12 service breaks.

“I definitely didn’t serve as consistently as I wanted to,” said the seven-time major champion. “I felt like just not as aggressive off the ground as I would have liked. So I think in this kind of match you have to be aggressive. Like I said, I give a lot of credit to her because she really set her points up. She was swinging freely. Most of them went in for her. So it was just, you know, great for her.”

“It already feels like a long season already, so many matches in a row,” Williams said. “But it’s a great start. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep this level up.”

Venus is 9-1 on the year, having won the tournament in Auckland.

“I think she played really well,” Venus said “Of course, I have to give credit to her just for playing well, landing a lot of great shots I think is ultimately — ultimately she played really well.

Venus hadn’t reached the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam since the U.S. Open in 2010 since being diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome in 2011, an auto-immune disease which causes fatigue.

“I think just being able to come back from being down and from not being able to move as well, not having as effective of a serve, just being able to kind of grind through that, still figure it out, manage to win some points, is what I’m most happy about,” Keys said about her left abductor injury.

“It was definitely one of those things where it wasn’t nearly as bad as Wimbledon, but it was that nightmare of `I don’t want this to happen again,’” Keys said. “Luckily the pain meds kicked in.”

“I mean, it definitely feels amazing,” said the teenager about the victory. “It’s one of those things where you want to feel this way all the time. But it’s not, you know, this unbelievable excitement either ’cause you want to keep winning and you want to keep doing better. I am very happy and I am very excited, but also not getting too far ahead of myself and being too content where I am.”

This is the third straight year that a teenager has reached the Australian Open semifinals: 2013 – Sloane Stephens, 2014 – Eugenie Bouchard and 2015 – Keys.

“I think Genie and Sloane are both really talented and can play some really good tennis,” Keys said.” It’s not super surprising they made semifinals. But, no, it’s one of those things when you see some of your fellow peers doing well, going deep in tournaments, it’s inspirational. Makes you kind of believe that you can do the same.”

About how Venus sees Keys’ future: “Sky’s the limit. There is no limit on what you can achieve. No one can stop you. Sometimes you may not win every match, but there’s a lot of them you can win. Really the sky’s the limit for her and anyone out there.”

On playing Serena next, Keys said: “It’s just one of those things where I have to go out and I have to do my best and I have to really just have to stay focused on my side of the court, because she’s obviously very, very good and she’s going to play very well. So if I get too focused on what she’s doing I think I can kind of let the moment get away from me. So I’m just really going to stay focused on myself.”

Serena on playing Keys:“I think she likes the surface. I’m just happy to be in the semis, and whatever happens an American will be in the final.”

“She’s playing great. I told her I was really happy that she did well. She’s in the semis. It’s good to see another American, another African American, in the semifinals playing so well. Regardless, there’s going to be an American in the finals, so that is great. It’s also great for me and Venus because we know that finally there’s other Americans that are constantly playing well and playing better, showing that they want to be the world’s greatest.”

On the men’s side of the draw, No. 1 Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka posted straight set wins to reach the semifinals. Djokovic defeated Milos Raonic 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-2 to gain his 25 major semifinal, while defending champion Wawrinka dominated Kei Nishokori with a powerful backhand 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (6).

This sets up a repeat of the last year’s dramatic quarterfinal which Wawrinka won in five sets.

 

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2015 Australian Open Men’s Contender Profiles

(January 17, 2015) Profiles of the top Men’s Singles contenders for the 2015 Australian Open. Note: Grand Slam records for main draw matches only.  – by Jack Cunniff     http://twitter.com/jrcunniff

Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

2014 Record: 61-8

Grand Slam Record: 180-33

Australian Open Record: 43-6

Australian Open Best Result: Won (2008, ’11-’13)

Fast Fact: If Djokovic wins the title, he will be tied for 5th for Grand Slam titles won (8) with Agassi, Connors, and Lendl, and will have the most Australian Open titles (5) in the Open era.

 

Roger Federer

2014 Record: 73-12

Grand Slam Record: 279-45

Australian Open Record: 73-11

Australian Open Best Result: Won (2004, ’06, ’07, ’10)

Fast Fact: Over the last five years, the Australian Open has been Federer’s most successful Grand Slam event, with 26 match wins (French – 22 wins, Wimbledon – 22 wins, US – 21 wins).

 

Rafael Nadal

2014 Record: 48-11

Grand Slam Record: 187-25

Australian Open Record: 41-8

Australian Open Best Result: Won (2009)

Fast Fact: Over the last seven months, Nadal has lost as many matches (3) against players ranked outside the top 100 as he had over the prior seven years.

 

Stan Wawrinka

2014 Record: 39-17

Grand Slam Record: 82-38

Australian Open Record: 23-8

Australian Open Best Result: W (2014)

Fast Fact: In 2014, Wawrinka won 73% of his matches vs. Top Ten players (8-3); in prior years he won only 29% vs. Top Ten (27-67).

 

Kei Nishikori

2014 Record: 54-14

Grand Slam Record: 37-21

Australian Open Record: 12-5

Australian Open Best Result: QF (2012)

Fast Fact: In 2014, Nishikori won $4.4M in prize money, more than he had earned in his entire career prior to 2014 ($3.6M in 2007-2013).

 

Andy Murray

2014 Record: 59-20

Grand Slam Record: 134-33

Australian Open Record: 33-9

Australian Open Best Result: RU (2010, ’11, ’13)

Fast Fact: Murray has reached at least the QF in his last 15 Grand Slam events played, a streak dating back to 2010 US Open (lost 3R to Wawrinka).

 

Tomas Berdych

2014 Record: 55-22

Grand Slam Record: 103-45

Australian Open Record: 29-11

Australian Open Best Result: SF (2014)

Fast Fact: Berdych has played 15 five set matches at Grand Slam events, but only one at the Australian Open (2009, lost 4R to Federer).

 

Milos Raonic

2014 Record: 49-20

Grand Slam Record: 35-16

Australian Open Record: 10-4

Australian Open Best Result: 4R (2011, ’13)

Fast Fact: Raonic has only one Top Ten win at a Grand Slam, defeating No. 10 Youzhny in the 3R of the 2011 Australian Open.

 

David Ferrer

2014 Record: 54-24

Grand Slam Record: 121-48

Australian Open Record: 32-12

Australian Open Best Result: SF (2011, ’13)

Fast Fact: Ferrer’s win over Berdych in Doha last week was his first win vs. a Top Ten player since May, 2014 (def. Isner, Madrid 3R).

 

Grigor Dimitrov

2014 Record: 50-18

Grand Slam Record: 20-17

Australian Open Record: 6-4

Australian Open Best Result: QF (2014)

Fast Fact: Dimitrov is the only player born after 1990 to have reached the Top Ten in the ATP rankings.

 

Ernests Gulbis

2014 Record: 41-21

Grand Slam Record: 27-29

Australian Open Record: 2-6

Australian Open Best Result: 2R (2009, ’14)

Fast Fact: Gulbis has lost in the first or second round in 22 of the last 24 Grand Slam events he has played.

 

Feliciano Lopez

2014 Record: 39-26

Grand Slam Record: 73-52

Australian Open Record: 17-12

Australian Open Best Result: 4R (2012)

Fast Fact: In his 17th year as a professional, Lopez had his most successful year in 2014, winning 39 matches.

 

Gael Monfils

2014 Record: 36-15

Grand Slam Record: 67-32

Australian Open Record: 16-9

Australian Open Best Result: 4R (2009)

Fast Fact: Monfils is the only seeded man at the 2014 Australian Open to win the Boys Singles title (2004).

 

John Isner

2014 Record: 39-20

Grand Slam Record: 37-26

Australian Open Record: 7-6

Australian Open Best Result: 4R (2010)

Fast Fact: Of Isner’s 18 career final appearances, 15 have been in U.S. events.

 

 

 

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