August 2, 2015

Karolina Pliskova and Angelique Kerber Reach Birmingham Final

 

Angeligue Kerber

Angelique Kerber

By Ros Satar

(June 20, 2015) BIRMINGHAM, England – It was touch and go what was the bigger adversary on Saturday – the opponents facing each other over the net, or the weather conditions that varied frustratingly from blue skies and the hint of sunshine, to thundering rain that sounded like wild applause within the confines of the media centre.

 

First up on a heavily disrupted schedule was Kristina Mladenovic and Karolina Pliskova, who had charmingly paired up to practice ahead of their match. Mladenovic admitted that the pair had known each other for years and enjoyed each other’s company off the courts.

 

It was Pliskova who was the more business like, breaking straight away, consolidating for a 3-1 lead before the first of the rain interruptions. Despite neither player being keen to try and play through a steady drizzle, it took a while before they were brought off for a spell.

 

Coming out for the restart, Pliskova wasted no time in breaking again swiftly, and served out the first set to love.

 

Mladenovic was net ready to give up without a fight though, lifting her level despite another extremely heavy downpour, which resulted in a few hardy souls being asked to vacate the stands for fear of on-coming thunder and lightning.

 

It was the Frenchwoman who took the early break this rime, only to relinquish it straight away. The pair stayed tight together through to the middle of the tie-break where she even built up three set-points but a run of five points on the bounce saw Pliskova seal a place in her fourth final this year 6-2, 7-6 (6), and her first grass court final.

 

In fact before this week she had struggled to even put together back to back wins on grass, despite having a solid game for the surface.

 

“I think my game is good on grass. I don’t know why I didn’t have any good results before this,” she said. “I’m happy it’s coming now. For me it’s really important to play like this, especially ahead of Wimbledon. Hopefully I can have some good results there as well now.”

 

“The conditions were hard, and Kristina was playing really well, so the second set wasn’t easy at all,” Pliskova continued. “I started the match feeling great, and as it went on it was getting worse, actually. She was starting to play better and better, too, so I couldn’t be happier to make it through in two sets.”

 

She is now a win away from breaking the Top 10, when she faces Angelique Kerber, who extended her head-to-head against Fed Cup teammate Sabine Lisicki to 6-0 with a straight sets win 6-3, 6-3, despite the crowd largely pulling for the 2011 champion.

 

 

Kerber is on her best run at Edgbaston, having made it to the third round twice, and while Pliskova is in her first Premier-level final, Kerber will be gunning for her fourth Premier title.

 

The pair are tied in their head-to-head 2-2, although Pliskova has won their two most recent meetings – Nurnberg 2014 and Sydney 2015.

 

She said: “Pliskova is also playing very well, very tough, deep, and strong. So I think it will be like maybe similar like today, the match tomorrow. But of course every single match start from zero and it’s another day, another match. She has a strong serve as well, so I must be ready to return it very well.”

 

Kerber and Pliskova are scheduled on the Ann Jones Centre Court, at 1pm.

 

Ros Satar is a British sports journalist covering tennis, and can also be found at Britwatch Sports.

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Eugenie Bouchard Bounced Out of French Open in First Round

Eugenie Bouchard

Eugenie Bouchard

(May 26, 2015) After a year which saw her surge into the top ten, Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard’s 2015 has not lived up to her ranking of No. 6. Last year’s Wimbledon finalist and French Open semifinalist has made her first, first round exit at a major in her young career, falling to Frenchwoman world No. 44 Kristina Mladenovic 6-4, 6-4. The 21-yearold has now lost eight of her nine matches.

“I felt I was in the match,” Bouchard said. “But tennis-wise, I still knew I was far off from how well I can play. But, you know, I was in there, and I just felt like I couldn’t be as relaxed as I wanted to on the court.”

“Honestly I don’t know what to say. It’s been kind of the same as how I have been feeling recently on the court. Just not like myself.”
“I feel like I have been trying to work on what’s been going wrong, and I feel like I have been making progress. So to still have matches like this is actually disappointing. But, I mean, at the same time it’s just a tennis match and, you know, I need to not worry too much. Life is still good. Everyone has highs and lows in their career. This is a little bit of a low point for me.”

 

“On paper, that’s true, she’s had fewer wins, but, you know, last year her season was exceptional,” said Mladenovic. “So it is tough for her to have the same results. People are expecting a lot. And it’s true, people say that she’s lost some of her confidence. But, you know, for me I had to put out good tennis, because I felt, you know, if I was playing well at the right pace, the things she loves she would have beaten me, you know. And therefore, I focused on my game, I focused on my game. I tried to be smart, vary my game, and the things she doesn’t like to do I did them. I think I perfectly executed my plan today. Of course, I think she’s going through a more tricky moment for her. If you look at her results. But, you know, if you give her freedom on the court, she has a very high level. So as usual, I would say, you know, women’s tennis is so dense today. All players play well. For me and for her, I’d say, well, there’s nothing to be afraid of, given her level of game. She’s in the top 10, after all.”
Mladenovic escaped some second set drama letting a 5-0 lead slip to a 5-4 lead, but did finally serve out the match.

“It’s never easy to finish such a match with a crowd, as well,” said the Frenchwoman. “You know, they are frustrated, they are waiting for you. It’s not easy on your nerves, to be frank. I’m very satisfied, you know, in my head, first, to be able to finish the match, you know, 5-4, and I served well. Otherwise, you know, 5-5 could have been much more complicated.”
“Had I been afraid of winning, I wouldn’t have won this one, neither the first set nor the second one nor the whole match. If you’re afraid of winning, you will never make it, you will never win such a match. Against her on a Grand Slam on such a court, it’s a tennis match, it’s a sport. She relaxed a little. She was, her back on the wall, as we say. It’s never obvious, you know. We are all human beings. It’s never easy to finish such a match. As I said earlier on, she’s an excellent player. If you give her an opportunity, she will take it. She would seize it, and she had a number of winners. I didn’t make that many mistakes myself, and she played better. I was no longer in my game plan, and it was going her way for a while, and then I played well at 5-4. I had a good game.”
Bouchard will now head to the grass court season, hoping to right her game. “I expected a good season, better than that of last year, so I realized it won’t be the case all the time,” said Bouchard. “So I have learned a lot recently. Moreover, I have to be patient. The results won’t come immediately. I know I can go through difficult times.

 

 

 

ROLAND GARROS, PARIS, FRA
GRAND SLAM – €26,287,000
May 24-JUNE 7, 2015

RESULTS – MAY 26, 2015
Women’s Singles – First Round
(1) Serena Williams (USA) d. (Q) Andrea Hlavackova (CZE) 62 63
(4) Petra Kvitova (CZE) d. Marina Erakovic (NZL) 64 36 64
(5) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) d. Karin Knapp (ITA) 63 60
Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) d. (6) Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) 64 64
(10) Andrea Petkovic (GER) d. Shelby Rogers (USA) 62 61
(16) Madison Keys (USA) d. Varvara Lepchenko (USA) 76(3) 63
(18) Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) d. Kiki Bertens (NED) 61 46 62
(23) Timea Bacsinszky (SUI) d. Lara Arruabarrena (ESP) 63 64
(Q) Sesil Karatantcheva (BUL) d. (25) Jelena Jankovic (SRB) 63 64
(32) Zarina Diyas (KAZ) d. (Q) Dinah Pfizenmaier (GER) 64 61
Silvia Soler-Espinosa (ESP) d. Pauline Parmentier (FRA) 64 63
Irina Falconi (USA) d. (WC) Manon Arcangioli (FRA) 62 60
Lourdes Dominguez Lino (ESP) d. Christina McHale (USA) 36 76(4) 64 (saved 2mp)
Julia Goerges (GER) d. CoCo Vandeweghe (USA) 62 57 61
Anna-Lena Friedsam (GER) d. (Q) Alexa Glatch (USA) 62 46 64
Francesca Schiavone (ITA) d. Qiang Wang (CHN) 36 63 64
Belinda Bencic (SUI) d. Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) 63 63
Tereza Smitkova (CZE) d. Taylor Townsend (USA) 63 64
Danka Kovinic (MNE) d. Klara Koukalova (CZE) 63 76(4)
Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) d. Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (SVK) 76(4) 76(7) (saved 1sp in 1st set, 11sp in 2nd set)

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Kristina Mladenovic Stuns Citi Open Top Seed Lucie Safarova

Lucie Safarova photo by Christopher Levy @Tennis_Shots

Lucie Safarova photo by Christopher Levy @Tennis_Shots

By Dave Gertler

 

(July 29, 2014) WASHINGTON, DC – It’s still only the first round, but the Citi Open women’s draw is now without a defending champion or a No. 1 seed.

Top seed at the Washington, D.C. event, Lucie Safarova, has been eliminated in the first round by French world No. 78 Kristina Mladenovic.  This upset came off the back of a straightforward win by No.2 seed Ekaterina Makarova over Magdalena Rybarikova, albeit not an upset other than the fact that the Rybarikova had never lost a match at the event, include her match against Makarova at last year’s Citi Open.

 

While Makarova’s was a straightforward 6-1, 6-1 win in under an hour, Mladenovic needed two hours, five minutes and three sets to topple world No.17. Broken twice in the first set, Mladenovic would turn the match around in the second set, breaking at 4-3 on a Safarova double fault, from which point, she held and continued to pour pressure on the Czech veteran, breaking her once at 2-2, and again at 5-3, when she converted a match point brought about by three consecutive errors from the Czech 27-year-old.

 

Kristina Mladenovic  photo by Christopher Levy @tennis_shots

Kristina Mladenovic photo by Christopher Levy @tennis_shots

It will be a second-round battle of the young guns when 21-year-old Mladenovic faces 18-year-old American qualifier Taylor Townsend who won through her first-round battle in three sets against Julia Goerges. Makarova is now the top seed remaining in the WTA draw.

 

Dudi Sela

Dudi Sela

On the ATP side, Dudi Sela’s run of form since Wimbledon continued in a tight 7-6, 3-6, 6-4 win against Australian Sam Groth, which lasted exactly two hours. Sela managed to get a read on Groth’s serve – one of the biggest in the game – in time to take control of a tight first-set tie break. Groth’s reaction to losing the first set – smashing a racquet to smithereens and receiving a code violation – would normally indicate a mental breakdown, but in fact Groth was spurred on to breaks in the first and last games of the second set, which he won 6-3.

 

By the decider, Sela had regained the confidence that has seen him go 8 wins to 3 losses since Wimbledon, and although Groth would recover one of them, Sela’s two breaks of serve allowed him to take the final set 6-4. “He has a very big serve,” said Sela of Groth, “But he’s serving-volleying so I have more target on the returns, so it was a little bit easier for me. He played some great games, some terrible games, and these terrible games that he played, I took my chance and broke him.”

 

It was a successful day for American men, with Sam Querrey and Steve Johnson getting through their first-round matches in straight sets.

 

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering Citi Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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Li Na Ousted in First Round of French Open

Li Na photo courtesy of MiamiTennisNews.com

Li Na photo courtesy of MiamiTennisNews.com

(May 27, 2014) In less than 24 hours both reigning Australian Open singles champions find themselves victims of first round losses at the French Open. On Monday it was Stan Wawrinka, on Tuesday No. 2 Li Na fell to French woman Kristina Mladenovic 7-5, 3-6, 6-1.

It is the first time in history that both the men’s and women’s Grand Slam singles champions have lost in the first round of the next major.

Li, the 2011 Roland Garros champion had an error-filled match, 37 unforced miscues in all.

“In my mind I didn’t have any idea how to play the match,” Li told media.

“Nobody says if you’re No. 2 in the world you win all the matches. That’s tennis.”

“I don’t think it is only the bad day,” Li continued. “I think it’s probably about me. Of course the easy thing is to say today was a bad day for me, but it’s not. I’m 100% sure. The problem is me. I don’t think I’m doing well on the court. And also, even during the match, I wasn’t thinking through what I should do, especially, I didn’t follow the game plan, and even when I was standing out on the court, in my mind I didn’t have any idea how to play the match.”

For the 21-year-old Mladenovic, who won the Roland Garros Junior championship in 2009 and is currently ranked 10 in the world, this is the biggest win of her career.

Also early on Tuesday an upset on the men’s side, 11th seen Grigor Dimitrov lost to big-serving Ivo Karlovic 6-4, 7-5, 7-6 (4). Dimitrov reached the third round to Paris last year.

“Today he was all over the court,” Dimitrov said in press. “He was just hitting his shots, you know, penetrating every volley, low slice, serving really good.”

 

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Serena Williams Wins Third Family Circle Cup

 

By Stephanie Neppl

 

(April 7, 2013) CHARLESTON, SC – For the second year in a row, Serena Williams is queen of the green clay. In the first three-set final since Serena beat Vera Zvonareva in 2008, the world No. 1 came back from a set down to win her third title in Charleston 3-6 6-0 6-2 over Jelena Jankovic.

 

On a perfectly sunny Sunday, Williams and Jankovic took the court for the first clay court match since 2010, which the Serb won in a third set tie-breaker.

 

On Sunday, both women showed the crowd why their head to head was 5-4 and played a match full of great rallies and clay court sliding. Williams had several break points on both of Jankovic’s first two service games but failed to capitalize in a 10-minute game. The next game, Jankovic broke Williams at love and the momentum was firmly in her favor. She held, then broke again to take the first set 6-3.

 

Williams broke immediately at the start of set two and reeled off six games in a row to bagel her opponent for the first time in their 10 matches. Williams broke early again in the third and was able to break again and serve out the match to win her 49th career title.

 

Coming off a win in Miami and now Charleston, Williams said she never goes into a tournament expecting to lose.

 

” I just expect to do the best I can,” she said. “If that meant that I won, then that’s great and if it meant that I lost but I played a good match, then I have to learn to be okay with that.”

 

Before she heads onto the red clay, Williams said she was keen to go home for a bit and didn’t plan any celebration other than sleeping in her own bed. “The last three weeks have been intense. I don’t really celebrate so much anymore,” she said.

 

Williams’ win was her third title of 2013, and she is expected to hold on to the No. 1 ranking at least through May 6, according to the WTA.

 

Jankovic, who had been on a 10-match winning streak on clay and said she thought she’d had a great week. “I think I did a great job. I fought very well. I played some good tennis throughout the week, and you know, today playing Serena was great, too. It’s been a while since I played against her, so it’s always fun to play against a champion like her.”

 

The Serbian said there is a reason why Serena is the world’s top ranked player and said she felt she’d given her best on the court. “She is serving very well and she hits the ball harder than anyone else. Physically she is the strongest out there.”

 

The doubles title was won by Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic and Kristina Mladenovic who defeated Andrea Hlavackova and Liezel Huber 6‑3, 7‑6 (6).

 

Stephanie Neppl was covering the Family Circle Cup for Tennis Panorama News. She spends all her spare funds traveling to tennis tournaments and has played since her teen years. She has worked as Social Media Manager for Tennis Auckland’s ATP and WTA tournaments. Follow her personal Twitter @stephintheus and her blog  http://ihaveatennisaddiction.blogspot.com.

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After 24 Hour Trip and Lost Luggage, Mladenovic Survives First Round in Florianópolis

Kristina+Mladenovic+2011+Hopman+Cup+Day+3+BGX6GpRjVzPlBy Barbara Galiza

(February 26, 2013) Florianópolis – The young French hope Kristina Mladenovic had to endure a few setbacks before playing her first round match in Florianópolis today. The 19-year-old arrived yesterday in Brazil, after a 24 hour trip and having her luggage lost, but still managed to advance to the second round. Mladenovic beat the British qualifier Anne Keothavong, 6-3, 6-4.

 

“I arrived yesterday, it was like a 24 hour trip from Memphis to here. So long, it’s one day! (laughter) So I’m really happy to have won today”, said Mladenovic, who captured the doubles title in Memphis, alongside Galina Voskoboeva.

 

“Yesterday afternoon my luggage didn’t arrive. I was waiting for my bag all night, I couldn’t practice. I came early this morning just to have an hour (hitting session) with my doubles partner (Petra Martic).”

 

The French player, 58th in the WTA rankings, is the seventh seed on the draw that also features the American Venus Williams. In the second round, Mladenovic faces the German Tatjana Malek.

 

“I came here with no expectations. I know it’s very hard, I was in indoor hardcourts in Memphis and here it was sort of a shock. I just tried today to be really focused on every shot and find a rhythm.”

Barbara Galiza is a journalist from Rio de Janeiro and is covering the WTA tenis 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 update s on @TennisNewsTPN.

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Sloane Stephens – Already in Vogue, Soon to Step into Jimmy Choos

SloaneStephens

(January 17, 2013)  Back in November Sloane Stephens was included in one of Vogue Magazine’s  best dressed lists as one of “The New Wave of Style Stars.”

The 19-year-old American who reached the third round of the Australian Open on Thursday by defeating former junior foe Kristina Mladenovic 6-4, 6-3 has decided to reward herself with a special gift only a fashionista or Carrie Bradshaw of Sex in the City could love – a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes.

“It’s nice to be in the third round of a tournament and passed the quarters the last two weeks,” Stephens told a small group of media after her win. “I told my friend today that I can’t wait to get those Jimmy Choo shoes I promised myself. They’re not heels, their flats and their white with studs.”

Stephens, the No. 29 seed said if she stays focused and concentrates she’ll reward herself with the shoes which retail for at the least 500 dollars a pair. “It’s like five meals. And I eat a lot,” said Stephens.

“It’s pretty hard when I’m staying at the Hyatt and right next door is Louis Vuitton and Gucci. I’m trying to save myself for them.” Stephens said. “I asked my mom to get me them and she said, ‘No,’ so I’m going to have to go behind her back and get them when I get home. If I order them and have them sent home she’ll obviously send them back because I’m not there.”

Stephens will continue her quest for the Australian Open title and thinking of further incentive rewards beyond the Jimmy Choo shoes, in the third round when she takes on fellow teenager 18-year-old Laura Robson of Great Britain in a match on Saturday. Stephens is one of five American women who have made it into the third round of Melbourne, the most American women in the third round since 2005.

 

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama.

Jaclyn Stacey contributed to this report.

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