Seeds stumble at the business end of Birmingham

Ana Ivanovic photo by Christopher Levy @tennis_shots

Ana Ivanovic photo by Christopher Levy @tennis_shots

Chalkdust Chronicles – Seeds stumble at the business end of Birmingham


(June 13, 2014) BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND – Hot on the heels of Sam Stosur coming out on the losing side of an all-Aussie affair was Sloane Stephens at the Aegon Classic on Friday in Birmingham. Earlier in the week she was asked whether this would be her shot at a final, but it looks like the tennis world will still be waiting, as she was brushed aside by Zhang Shuai 6-3, 6-1 for a place in the semi-final.


For the third morning in a row the American was opening up proceedings on the Ann Jones Centre Court, and while she seemed to be moving a bit better on another sunny day in Birmingham, her timing and range were a might bit off.


Zhang is almost an anti-Sloane Stephens in terms of their successes at Slams verses the tour. Stephens is very much one for the bigger occasions while Zhang has yet to win her first R128 at a Grand Slam. In fact last year she all but missed them.


“Last year Australian Open, before I have injury and then I didn’t go to Australia. So French Open I have to play qualies, but I’m still in the Belgium, Brussels, still in the draw. So I don’t have chance to play qualies because same week I’m still in the draw. I can’t play two tournaments same week, so I miss the French Open.


“In Wimbledon I have in my country, China, have the national game, so very big tournament of Chinese player. So I stay in China play the national game, so I miss the third Grand Slam last year, Wimbledon. But I come to Wimbledon play doubles and mixed last year.”


More brushing aside, top seed Ana Ivanovic ploughed through a sometime tearful Klara Koukalova 6-1, 6-4 and proceeded to chatter enthusiastically about her plans after Birmingham.


“I’m going to actually be in London and train there and then, I have some also free time to go to the city a little bit and relax. We don’t get to do that much during the tournament, especially we stay in Wimbledon Village. It’s a good opportunity to do it the week before and let your hair down a little bit and not think too much about the matches yet. Then looking forward Wimbledon pre‑party.”


The dream run of Kimiko Date-Krumm ended a lot less glowingly than her great performance yesterday against defending champion Daniela Hantuchova, as it was her turn to be on the unfortunate end of a bagel.


Casey Dellacqua, who came back from a set down against fellow countrywoman Sam Stosur was on fire as Date-Krumm needed something a little more than her trademark tea to calm her fraying nerves as Dellacqua allowed the veteran just a single game in the match, as she sets up a semi-final against Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.


Play starts at 12pm BST with Ivanovic and Zhang, followed by Zahlavova Strycova v Dellacqua.


Serena Williams Crushes, Maria Sharapova Rebounds to Advance at Sony Open

(March 24, 2014) In a tale of two different matches, expected results as No. 1 Serena Williams and fourth seed Maria Sharapova reached the quarterfinals of the Sony Open on Monday.

Williams dismissed American countrywoman qualifier CoCo Vandeweghe 6-3, 6-1 to reach the elite 8 in Miami for the 13th time in 14 appearances.

After her first two matches in the tournament she showed some rust, Williams cleaned up her game hitting 17 winners to only 11 unforced errors and stopping all six break points she faced.

“I was definitely happier today,” Williams said.  “I was really struggling my first two matches, so I just wanted to have a better performance today.”

“She’s improved a great deal,” Williams said of her opponent’s game.  “Her focus is so much better.  Her movement is good.  Her attitude is great.  She’s a nice girl.

“You know, it’s always fun to play with young Americans, I think, and just enjoy it.  It’s so good to see another American doing really well.”

Williams was so impressed with the young American that she spoke to her about possible playing doubles.

“She said, `Listen, you played so well. We’ve got to play doubles. We’d do so well,’” Vandeweghe said.

Next up for Williams will be the No. 5 seed Angelique Kerber, who beat Ekaterina Makarova 6-4, 1-6, 6-3.

“It will be good to play a different opponent,” Williams said.  “I feel like I have played the same person three times in a row.  It will be nice to play a lefty, someone that just plays different.

“Angelique has been able to beat me in the past, so I have to be really focused and be ready in that match.”


Maris Sharapova had to reset from a first set drubbing to beat Kirsten Flipkens 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.

The Belgium jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first set and Sharapova could only win five points during those four games. In the second set Sharapova jumped out to a 4-0 lead, then Flipkens won 4 out of 5 games, but Sharapova broke serve to take the set 6-4.

“I usually like playing the first match, but I didn’t start off the way I wanted to,” Sharapova said. “Nothing was working.”

“Nothing was working in the first set,” Sharapova said. “Yeah, that’s just the way it went in the beginning.

“She’s a different type of opponent. There aren’t too many girls that hit a slice backhand 90% of the time in the rallies. You expect that because she’s been around for a long time, and it shouldn’t be that much of a surprise, but I wasn’t doing too much from my end and made a lot of mistakes from the first ball, which gives your opponent that confidence and the time they need to do whatever they want.

“It was about finding that combination of getting something in to give her something to play with.”

Sharapova’s momentum carried over into the final set where she kept her errors low and her aggression high, dropping only one more game.

Final stats for Sharapova- 36 unforced errors, 13 winners and 10 double-faults.

Sharapova will play the woman she lost to in the 2011 Wimbledon finals, No. 8 seed Petra Kvitova in the quarterfinals. Kvitova regrouped to stop Ana Ivanovic 3-6, 6-0, 6-0.

“We haven’t played for a long time, but we have always had interesting, tough matches against each other,” Sharapova said about her next opponent.  “I think we know what to expect from one another.  She’s always tricky because she is a lefty.  You don’t play so many out there.  I already had one in this tournament, so maybe that was good practice for it.

“She has a different game than someone like Safarova.  She has a powerful game and goes for her shots, and when she’s on it’s tricky to play against her.”


Ana Ivanovic and Venus Williams reach Auckland Semis


Ana Ivanovic

(January 2, 2014) Ana Ivanovic, Venus Williams, Jamie Hampton and Kirsten Flipkens have reached the semifinals of the ASB Classic in Auckland.

Seven-time major champion Venus Williams beat Garbine Muguruza 6-3, 6-3 and the second-seeded Ivanovic topped Kurumi Nara of Japan 6-2, 6-3 to reach the Auckland semifinals.

Ivanovic will play her doubles partner, No. 3 seed Kirsten Flipkens in her semifinal on Friday while the other semifinal will feature an all-American contest when Williams faces Jamie Hampton.

Flipkens stopped Japanese qualifier Sachie Ishizu 6-4, 7-5 and Hampton defeated countrywoman Lauren Davis 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.


Venus and Serena Williams Have Easy Wins to Open 2013 US Open

Serena Williams photo by Josh Meiseles

Serena Williams photo by Josh Meiseles

(August 26, 2013) Sisters Venus and Serena Williams had easy opening matches on day one of the US Open. Serena destroyed Francesca Schiavone 6-0, 6-1 in the night session while older sister Venus knocked off the 12th seed Kirsten Flipkens 6-1, 6-2.

At one point in Serena’s match her opponent, a former French Open champion asked the ball boy to give her a hug as she was down 6-0, 2-0.

“A hug?, “ said Schiavone. “ No.  I don’t need a hug in that moment.  I need a game, points.  I don’t need the hug.

“No, no I went to the ballboys to say, Well, that’s tough.  No, it was just a joke.”

“She’s a great competitor,” Serena said.  “I think she played really well.  I think the scoreline had nothing to do with the match.  I mean, I just was able to win some key points.

“But I tell you, it wasn’t very easy out there.  We were both grunting and running and fighting.”

“It was very, very nice to win a game,” said Schiavone.  “For the first time in my life, I felt joy from winning a single game.”

The match ended in an hour just before the rains began and ended play for the evening, pushing Roger Federer’s match to Tuesday’s day session.

“I heard it was going to rain all day, Serena said.  “I didn’t know going into it.  I didn’t know the weather forecast.  I forget about it pretty much.”

The 33-year-old Williams resembled the Venus from the past before being struck with an auto-immune disorder in her victory over Flipkens.

Even though on paper the match is considered an upset, Flipkens said that no matter what the rankings say that when Venus is focused and fit she’s a top 10 player.

“I stay positive because I know I can play great tennis,” Venus said. “Sometimes you just have to go through more than what you want to go through.

When asked about the state of her game, Venus said:” I try not to think about the state.  I try to think about how I’m going to execute each point on the court.  There can be times you play amazing in practice or in the round before and not play well the next round.

“I try more than anything to get the best out of myself in that game and that point.  That’s kind of what I’m looking at, and of course trying to get better each round.  But, you know, that’s it.”


Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News


Lisicki Fights Off Radwanska while Bartoli Dominates Flipkens to Reach Wimbledon Final


(July 4, 2013) Germany’s Sabine Lisicki has made her first Wimbledon final with a hard-fought match win over No. 4 seed Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 2-6, 9-7. For Lisicki who had the upset of women’s draw when she beat No. 1 Serena Williams in the round of 16, will play France’s Marion Bartoli next for the title. Bartoli beat Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium 6-1, 6-2 reaching her second Wimbledon final. The Frenchwoman lost to Venus Williams in 2007 in straight sets.

Saturday’s final will be only the second women’s major final in the Open era to feature two women who have never claimed a Grand Slam title.

Lisicki’s game demonstrates power and aggression, on both her serve and her groundstrokes. Lisicki fortunes turned in the second set as her service games were not as dominant and Radwanska’s game of retrieval and variety pushed past the German 6-2.

Radwanska zoomed to a 3-0 lead in the third set, the Lisicki rallied to equal the set three-all. Both women held serve until the ninth game when the Pole was broken. Lisicki, serving for the match at 5-4 could not complete the task with Radwanska breaking for 5-5. A break by Lisicki in the 15th game followed by a hold gave Lisicki game, set, match and her first crack at a chance to win a Wimbledon crown.

“I’m just so happy,” Lisicki said.  “Couldn’t be any better, and couldn’t be any better place to play the first Grand Slam final.”

“Fought out there.”

Lisicki admitted that her win over Serena Williams helped her make it through her match today.

“I thought, `I’ve done it against Serena so you can do it today as well, just hang in there,’” Lisicki said. “It gave me so much confidence and I’m just so, so happy I was able to finish it.”

Lisicki who has come back from many an injury talked about those who gave her inspiration:

“Hermann Maier.  You know, I read his book while I was injured.  You know, almost losing his leg and then to come back and be the world champion in his sport, I think was an unbelievable story.

“Also Drew Brees, an American football player, quarterback.  Nobody believed he could come back after almost his shoulder ‑‑ he has torn everything there was in the shoulder, and he still came back and was one of the best, so… “

Bartoli’s semifinal was not very dramatic – from start to finish she crushed her shots and pushed her opponent all over the court in 62 minutes.

“I played great. I executed very well. I hit lobs, passing shots, winners, returns, everything worked out perfectly,” said Bartoli. “When I fell on the grass after match point, it was just so emotional. I dreamed about that moment, about returning to the Wimbledon final.”

Bartoli reflected reaching the final this year versus back in 2007.

“The last time I was so young, in a way,” said the 28-year-old Bartoli.  “I was every time the underdog coming out on the court, which this time it was totally the opposite.  I was this time the highest ranked player and I needed to put out a great performance in order to go through.”

“I think I’ve been able to deal with the pressure really well and keep improving throughout the Championships and keep playing better.  Especially I think today I think I played a great match.”

Going into Saturday’s final the 23-year-old Lisicki holds a career 3-1 lead over Bartoli.


Halep and Mahut Claim Rosmalen Titles


(June 22, 2013) Nicolas Mahut became a first-time winner on the ATP tour on Sunday besting Stanislas Wawrinka 6-3, 6-3 for the Topshelf Open title. The 31-year-old became the second qualifier this year to win a title. Ernest Gulbis was the first, winning at Delray Beach.

Ranked at No. 240 Mahut is the lowest ranked titlist on the ATP World Tour since 2008, when 244th ranked Kei Nishikori won the title in Delray Beach.

“It’s amazing. I cannot believe I won today,” said the Frenchman.” I didn’t know if I was going to play again when I had some bad times with my knee. All my team helped me a lot. We worked hard and here I am with the trophy. It’s a good story.”

“Emotionally, the last game was difficult, but I really served great, Mahut said in regard to winning the match. “ We played five points and I made four first serves, which helped a lot. Today was really tough to play in the conditions. It was rainy and cold, windy. I won my serve at 3-3 [in the first set], then I broke him. That for me, was the key to the match.”

Simona Halep was the champion on the women’s side, earning her second straight tournament win with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Kirsten Flipkens in a rain-interrupted contest.

Halep won her first career WTA title last week by besting Andrea Petkovic to win a clay court title at Nurnberger.

“It’s incredible, because I played really well on grass after a week on clay,” the Romanian said.” Today I played well. I was a little bit nervous at the start but I just tried to fight for every point. She’s playing a very difficult game for me, slicing a lot, but I played every point and just kept going, and I won in the end. I’m really happy. I want to enjoy this evening. It’s a special moment for me.”


Flipkens Talks About Relationship with Clijsters

Flipkens photo by Cristiano Andujar/Foto Arena

Kirsten Flipkens photo by Cristiano Andujar/Foto Arena

By Barbara Galiza

(February 26, 2013) Florianópolis – This week, at 27, Kirsten Flipkens reached the highest ranking of her career – 31st – and became Belgium’s No. 1 tennis player for the first time. Her happiness, however, was short-lived. Complaining of a right leg injury, Flipkens fell in three sets in WTA Florianópolis’ first round. After the loss, she talked about her relationship with countrywoman Kim Clijsters and her sudden rise in the WTA rankings.

“Last year I was ranked 262 and now I’m 31, it’s a great step. I don’t know what changed, I was just trying to focus on my game”, said Flipkens. “I’ve had lots of injuries in the past couple of years and now everything was falling into pieces. I quit with the (Belgian Tennis) Federation and I now have the right people around me. That made a difference.”

In Florianópolis, the Belgian lost to Olga Puchkova, from Russia, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4. Since her next tournament is Indian Wells, Flipkens stated her main concern was getting fit for the mandatory mixed event.

“In the second set, I slowly felt the power in my right leg going away and I didn’t know what was going on. Last week in Memphis and in Fed Cup, I had the same struggle. Because of my back’s rotation, I feel weakness on my leg”, Flipkens explained.

“It’s sad because I’m confident and I’m in my highest ranking ever this week. It was a shame”, she said. “Right now my focus is getting my body 200% fit for Indian Wells. Maybe I will have to take a scan of my lower back because I’ve had problems with it before. I want to know what’s going on because I can’t continue to play like this.”

Last year, Flipkens was briefly helped by former No. 1 and longtime friend Kim Clijsters. The Belgians, that have known each other since kids, paired up for doubles in the U.S. Open, before Clijsters retired from professional tennis.

“There are too many people thinking Kim is my coach. Right now I’m practicing in her academy, in Belgium, but she’s not coaching me”, said Flipkens. “It’s not like she’s giving me tactical advice, she’s just supporting me. I’ve known her since I was 12, she is a good friend of mine, like an older sister. Now, for example, she’s pregnant, so her family life is a priority. Maybe if it’s the right time and the right place, she’ll come (coach) with me, but her family is in the first place now and it’s logic.”

Barbara Galiza is a journalist from Rio de Janeiro and is covering the WTA tennis tournament in  Florianópolis, Brazil as media in  for Tennis Panorama. She likes tennis and writing. Sometimes she blogs, most of the time she tweets. – @fiercetennis. Follow her updates on @TennisNewsTPN.



Florianopolis, Brazil
February 24-March 2, 2013

Results – Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Singles – Second Round
Jana Cepelova (SVK) d. (8) Annika Beck (GER) 76(6) 64

Singles – First Round
(1) Venus Williams (USA) d. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (CRO) 63 63
Olga Puchkova (RUS) d. (3) Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) 26 64 64
(5) Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK) d. Kimiko Date-Krumm (JPN) 63 60
(7) Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) d. Anne Keothavong (GBR) 63 64
Garbiñe Muguruza (ESP) d. (Q) Kristina Barrois (GER) 62 62
Tatjana Malek (GER) d. Teliana Pereira (BRA) 64 62
Timea Babos (HUN) d. Valeria Savinykh (RUS) 76(5) 67(3) 62
(WC) Beatriz Haddad Maia (BRA) d (Q) Chieh-Yu Hsu (USA) 61 62

Doubles – First Round
Barrois/Malek (GER/GER) d. (2) Martic/Mladenovic (CRO/FRA) 63 75
Alves/Lucic-Baroni (BRA/CRO) d. Czink/Niculescu (HUN/ROU) 75 64
(WC) Forte/Haddad Maia (BRA/BRA) d. Auroux/Irigoyen (ARG/ARG) 62 75

Order Of Play – Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Centre Court (from 11.00hrs)
1. Timea Babos vs. Chanelle Scheepers
2. Beatriz Haddad Maia vs. Melinda Czink (NB 12.30hrs)
3. Beatriz García Vidagany vs. Magdalena Rybarikova
4. Alves/Lucic-Baroni vs. Keothavong/Savinykh
5. Venus Williams vs. Garbiñe Muguruza (NB 20.00hrs)

Court 1 (from 11.00hrs)
1. Medina Garrigues/Shvedova vs. Molinero/Pérez
2. Kristina Mladenovic vs. Tatjana Malek
3. Babos/Date-Krumm vs. Peer/Scheepers (after suitable rest)
4. Forte/Haddad Maia vs. Barrois/Malek (after suitable rest)

Court 2 (from 12.00hrs)
1. Olga Puchkova vs. Caroline Garcia
2. Monica Niculescu vs. Tereza Mrdeza


Clinical Sharapova Continues Her Mission, Li Na Advances

Maria Sharapova 10062012 China Open Sharapova in press with pocket book part 2

By Jaclyn Stacey

(January 20, 2013) MELBOURNE PARK, Australia – Kirsten Flipkens became the next victim in Maria Sharapova’s mission for a second Australian Open title on Sunday, the second seed demolishing her Belgian opponent in straight sets 6-1, 6-0 to progress to a quarterfinal clash with fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova.


Sharapova was clinical in disposing of Flipkens, smashing away 25 winners and succeeding on 81% of first serves in play.


The second set was a 25 minute thumping and the fifth bageled set of Sharapova’s tournament.


She was understandably pleased following the easy victory, and said the key to continuing in the winning manner is to remain focused and to stick to your game.


“All of a sudden, especially in women’s tennis, things can change really quickly. It’s really about, you know, sticking to your game plan, being consistent, but playing your game.”


“You know, I didn’t start the match really great. I was facing a different type of opponent today and I was making a few more mistakes than I would have liked in the beginning.”


“But after, you know, I held at 2-1, you know, I really started making her play a little bit more.    Started really getting under the ball and being aggressive and just had a little bit more energy which really helped me and I carried that throughout the match.”


Sharapova plays Makarova in the quarterfinals who today defeated fifth seed Angelique Kerber 7-5 6-4 to progress into her second consecutive quarterfinal. Makarova is relishing the opportunity to play the second seed in a rematch of their 2012 Australian Open quarterfinal in which Sharapova won in straight sets 6-2, 6-3.


“I really want to play against Maria because I lost against her last year. I’m feeling really confident in my game.”


Elsewhere in day seven action, China’s Li Na defeated eighteenth seed Julia Goerges in straight sets. The first set was a tight encounter that lasted almost one hour with the sixth seed closing it out in a tie-break 7-6(6). The second set was was easier for 2011 Australian Open finalist as she won it 6-1 and progressed through to a quarterfinal appearance against fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska.


Jaclyn Stacey is a Melbourne based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open tournament as media for Tennis Panorama News.  Follow her Australian Open updates on @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal twitter @JackattackAU.


Flipkens Wins First WTA Title


Belgum’s Kirsten Flipkens won her first WTA title on Sunday defeating eighth seed Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic 6-1, 7-5 for the Bell Challenge tournament in Quebec City.

The unseeded flipkens was playing in her first WTA final.

“I played really well and really aggressively in the first set,” Flipkens said. “I feel my only advantage in the second set was the break at 5-all – it was a really close match and I was down in a lot of the games I won. It’s been a rough year for me. All the emotions come out when you win your first WTA title. I was No.260 in June and now I have my first WTA title. It’s hard to imagine right now. This is the best day of my life.”