2014/08/30

Laura Robson Out of Roland Garros and Wimbledon with Wrist Injury

Laura Robson Mirror Court Adidas Event4

(April 17, 2014) British tennis player Laura Robson announced on her Facebook page that she’s having wrist surgery:

The 20-year-old Robson is currently ranked at 64 in the world. She won the girls’ Wimbledon title in 2008.

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Approach Shots – Judy Murray Q & A Part Two

 

JudyMurray

 

(September 18, 2013) NEW YORK, NY – During the US Open, Great Britain’s Fed Cup Captain Judy Murray, mother of ATP players Andy Murray and Jamie Murray, sat down to do an interview with Tennis Panorama News.

In part two of our Q & A, the former top Scottish women’s tennis player spoke about the current women’s tour and some of her proudest moments.

 

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News: What are your thoughts on the women’s tour? Do you think there is more depth or is it just Serena(Williams) and everyone else?

Judy Murray: When Serena is at the top of her game is very, very tough to beat because she’s just so strong and she’s just fabulous to watch when she’s playing well and I love watching her when she’s on top of her game. And just behind her is obviously (Victoria) Azarenka and (Maria) Sharapova. So the top three are very much power players – there’s not a huge amount of variety there. You don’t see too much, not too many drops shots or changes of pace, it’s really all about the power.

Then there’s sort of a pack of players behind that that are all very solid. The players that I miss are the (Amelie) Mauresmo’s and the (Justine) Henin’s. I like watching (Sara) Errani and (Flavia) Pennetta. I like watching the Italian’s creativity and variety.

I think you know, you need personalities. I think that’s the thing you kind of feel that tennis, is just to try and create more personalities out of the players so fans can start to identify with them as people. And I think that I think Serena is a huge personality and I think Sharapova probably is as well, but we need try and get that with more of them. I guess it’s up to the WTA tour to find a way to be able to do that so that fans can really identify them and want to come out and watch and support.

It’s tough on the women’s tour – this year I’ve noticed it’s more difficult getting into a lot of the tournaments. A lot a tournaments that have been lost and maybe the sponsors withdrawing, so they’re not so many options open to the girls on the calendar. I think that the last three weeks on the women’s tour (during the summer) from New Haven, Toronto and Cincinnati. I think cutoffs of the main draw were 40? It’s very, very tough. The girls are having to pay out a lot of money every week to travel.

KP: No secondary tournaments going on.

JM: That’s right. There used to be a lot more so. It’s not just at that time of the year, it’s just very noticeable just lately. There’s not so much choice now.

If the women’s tour calendar is losing tournaments because it’s harder to get sponsors, then you have to look at why is that. Why are sponsors not coming forward, are they not getting crowds? Why are they not getting crowds? Not getting TV showing it. Why are they not getting TV showing it? You need to ask those questions and find out what people want and the tour. The WTA has to find ways to help players to market themselves better so that people do want to come and watch women in the same way they want to watch the men. I think the events that are mixed, where they have both at the same time, have been fantastic. There is huge, huge buzz about those tournaments. May be they need to have more of those if that’s possible, but if it isn’t….

I have this theory that if it’s more women who come and watch women’s sports, so you need to create an army of tennis fans from women to come along and support women’s sport.  It’s like I went to watch the British Women’s Open golf a few weeks ago and I had the same feeling there. You know, that there were not a lot of young people, girls watching that. There were a lot of older people that and I was thinking, golf was one of those sports that women are more likely to take up when they’re older than when they’re younger. That’s a challenge to golf.

I do think that tennis needs to ask itself questions about why, and I’m sure they are, asking questions about why they’ve lost so many tournaments and how they can make the calendar more busy. But also it needs to be a bit smarter, I think in terms of where tournaments are placed so that you could have a run of three tournaments without having to travel from one side of the world to the other. I think that makes a lot of sense because the expenses for the players are getting bigger and bigger all the time and especially if you’ve got someone travelling with you and you probably need two rooms and two flights, food every week.

Or maybe finding ways where they can help the girls to supplement their income. I don’t necessarily mean the top ones ‘cause they don’t need it. The other girls you know, some more pro-ams or little exho matches before tournaments start and things where sponsor might need to have some of the girls play with their clients. You see things like that at Indian Wells. I always think, you know that’s one of few venues that do that sort of thing really well.

And for the doubles guys, because of Jamie, it’s a great help to go off and do a few of them. It helps to pay for your hotel bill for a week, but they probably need some help in trying to encourage people to put more of that on for the women’s side.

 

KP: What have been your proudest moments in tennis?

JM: There’s been absolutely loads.

I think when I first started coaching, I was just a volunteer coach at the club, I had been doing it for a few years. Our high school team at Dunblane High School won the Scottish schools championship, the boys team and that was my first success in coaching and I can remember being very emotional when they won that because it was just great. It’s your local town, just something that you helped out and these kids have managed to win this big thing.

But anytime when the boys (Andy and Jamie) have played together, on Davis Cup teams for Great Britain, watching them play together and that’s a huge thing, seeing both of your children, side by side. Any time they play together – I think the Olympics and Davis cup are very special. In 2008 here (US Open) Andy was in the singles final and Jamie was in the mixed doubles final, that was a great time. And obviously the two Wimbledon wins – Andy winning the singles and Jamie winning his mixed doubles. They were huge. The Olympics, US Open last year.

I have proud moments that have nothing to do with the tennis – they’re good kids. They do good things. They’re good with people and they’re still very normal through everything that’s happened.

 

In the part three, the final part of the interview, Murray discusses tennis and twitter, and her sweet tooth.

Related articles:

Approach Shots – Judy Murray Q & A Part One

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Approach Shots – Judy Murray Q & A Part One

 

JudyMurray

(September 17, 2013) NEW YORK, NY – During the US Open, Great Britain’s Fed Cup Captain Judy Murray, mother of ATP players Andy Murray and Jamie Murray sat down to do an interview with Tennis Panorama News.

In part one of our Q & A, the former top Scottish women’s tennis player spoke about her introduction to tennis and coaching, Fed Cup, women coaches and those women coming up the ranks of British tennis.

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News: How did you get involved in tennis?

Judy Murray: I started playing tennis when I was about 10. Back in those days, when racquets were wooden and balls were heavy, the courts were all just one size. It was actually quite tough to start tennis younger than that unless you were quite big because the equipment was heavy.

My Mom and Dad both played, they played for the county, played a lot down at the local club. When I was big enough, I started to join in. I just learned from playing with my parents.

 

KP: With your sons, did they naturally want to play because you played?

JM: Probably, we lived about 300 meters from the tennis courts and when they were very small, we didn’t have much money and I didn’t have a car. I went round to our local club and did some work just as a volunteer and started working with some of the older juniors because I was still playing at a good level. I was the Scottish No. 1 for quite a number of years.

I started working as a volunteer coach when they were very small and some of the kids that I started working with, they started to get quite good and that is when I realized that my initial coaching qualification that I had done when I was a student wasn’t really helping me to help them particularly, so I was just teaching them from a tactical base, which was based on my own playing experience. In my day you didn’t have coaches. You learned how to play the game by playing the game.

I upgraded my qualification when Jamie and Andy were six and seven and then a couple of years later I upgraded it again, because I realized  that a lot of the kids I was working with, were becoming pretty good at the Scottish level and I wanted to help them to be the best that they could be. And I realized that my knowledge of playing the game was all about playing the game, it wasn’t too much about teaching them from a technical base, so I wanted to learn about that. I haven’t up graded my qualification since then. That was the highest level of coaching qualification at the time in Britain. It was a year-long course that was a big thing for me to take on when the boys were quite young, the workshops were all down south.

Also what I remember about that course is that there was a lot of information but not enough about how to actually use the information. And what I have learned in my 20 years or so of coaching is that it doesn’t matter how much information you’ve got if you are not able to communicate it effectively and in the right way with the kids or the adults in front of you, you are not going to get the job done. I think a lot of it comes down to how well you communicate, how much you can enthuse the kids by the way you behave with them. I keep saying kids because I’m so used to working with juniors but now I’ve started working more on the women’s side, but it’s the same thing – you need to have a good rapport. You need to have some fun. You need to get your point across. The other thing is that the better you know your player as a person, the more chance you have at doing a good job with them because understand what makes them tick and what makes them react badly and you’ve started at the best way to get them to do things.

KP: Speaking of working with different players, how challenging is it to be the Fed Cup Captain?

JM: That’s quite a challenge. It’s certainly was a challenge the first year because I had never worked on the women’s side before. I’d worked with juniors and obviously on the men’s side. But working with girls is quite different than working with boys and working with women is quite different from working with girls. Had to learn a lot about that but like throughout my coaching career, I speak to people. I speak to people who have been there and done it before and have lots of experience and then you form your own opinion. You form you own view or philosophy. So I picked a lot of people’s brains. It’s mostly men on the women’s tour, mostly male coaches.

 

KP: Why do you think there are so few female coaches?

JM: I think there is not a great career pathway for female coaches. I think it doesn’t matter whether you work in clubs or whether you are working with better level players. I think it’s you know, that natural thing is for women to get married probably in their twenties and have their kids and then the life of a coach is actually very difficult because if you are coaching in a club for example or a domestic program, your busiest times are going to be after four o’clock and on weekends. So you’re working in the evenings and on weekends, if you’ve got family it’s very difficult. I think if you get to the stage where you want to work with a full-time player then you need to be prepared to be on the road for probably about 30 weeks of the year and that’s very tough as well.

But I think there are one or two things which come into play too. It’s tough to make a living in the game unless you are probably 70, ranked 70 and above. And really anyone ranked below that, it’s tough to have to pay for a coach and a coach’s expenses on the road with you and your own expenses too. Most girls, I think will try to pick a coach who can also work as a sparring partner, and that tends to lend itself more to males who play at a decent level and who can fill that kind of dual role. I think that has something to do with it as well.

Of course there is nothing wrong with having male coaches, but I think we could do with having more females because I do think that female coaches understand the needs and feelings of girls a lot better than guys do and I’ve been saying this for some time now. In our country we need to get more little girls playing tennis and taking up tennis. Tennis has become very attractive now since Wimbledon and since the success of Laura (Robson) and Heather (Watson), very young and exciting prospects and they’re great role models for young girls and for women’s tennis. But once we get little girls into tennis, we need to make sure they are having a lot of fun, doing what they are doing. We need to have a lot more female coaches working with little girls, for exactly the same reasons – to ensure we can retain them in the sport because little girls tend to generally be not as competitive, not as boisterous as boys and can be put off by being in a mixed group or being with a male coach who finds it easier to deal with the boys, because the boys kind of do all the competitive things because they enjoy doing that sort of thing. Building a stronger female coaching workforce in our country is important to us to retain more girls in the game.

KP: Beyond Heather and Laura, who are the women coming up behind then in Great Britain?

JM: Some of the girls have started to do quite well pushing themselves up the rankings. Johanna Konta was at a career-best ranking at 112 before the US Open, I think she’ll drop a little bit. She won a 25 and a 100K back-to-back during the summer which was very good progress for her. So she’s moving in the tight direction. She’s 22 now.

Tara Moore is the same age as Heather Watson and she is very, very talented and she has started to show some good signs of progress. She still needs to work at being able to put good performances in on a consistent basis, and so much of that being able to perform consistently well is down to how emotionally stable you can be for longer periods of time and that always doesn’t come quickly to every player. I think sometimes you have to let them grow into themselves a bit. But she has a huge amount of potential – a very, very skillful player. I think that if she can get herself together I think she can go places over the next couple of years.

And we have Sam(antha) Murray who was playing in the qualies here (US Open). She was at a US college on a scholarship and she has started to push herself up the rankings. Very hard worker, good all-court game, plays good doubles as well, big first serve.

Elena Baltacha had a surgery on her foot in the off season last year, so she’s just playing again full-time, but she has produced good performances as well. It won’t be long before she’s back at her best. Beyond that we are starting to look at the juniors.

We have three very good juniors born in 1998.  Maia Lumsden who won the 14s Orange Bowl in December, Gabby (Gabriella) Taylor who trains in Spain and Jazzy Plews who also trains in Spain. All have been ranked within the top ten at the end of last year in the 14s. So they are all in a good place as well.

But certainly, from my point of view we need to use this opportunity now where tennis is the kind of buzz word among sports in Britain just now. We need to use the opportunity to get more girls playing and to develop a stronger female coaching workforce to retain more of them in the early stages, and then to educate more coaches to be able to do a better job through all the development stages. There’s quite a big job to be done but there’s a huge opportunity at the moment. I will always argue that more better coaches, produce more better players. We need to, in my opinion, to invest in our coaching workforce.

 

In part two of our interview, Murray talks about the women’s tour and some of her proudest moments.

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Round 4 Shock for Serena Williams at Wimbledon– Round up of the Centre Court Action

Serena-Williams-after-winning-3-of-3-e1355919788463

By Ros Satar

 

(July 1, 2013) WIMBLEDON – As if last Wednesday was not enough fun for the tennis gods, they toyed with the seemingly natural order of things just a little more on Round 4 Monday.

Possibly one of the best days usually on the tennis schedule, Wimbledon looks to put all their Round 4 matches on the same day, men and women.

It gives people who are still doing the queue a chance to see some action on the outside courts, if they miss out on those coveted bands for the show courts.

 

Sabine Lisicki [23] def. Serena Williams [1] 6-2, 1-6, 6-4
Let’s just make it competitive – that was probably the wish if every neutral observer watching the first match of the day on Centre Court.
I think I could be safe in saying that not many saw the first set coming – Serena Williams seemingly just content to put the ball in play – in fact with Lisicki being dragged to deuce in each service game, surely it was just Serena playing cat to Lisicki’s mouse.

It was just that the mouse was capable of thundering down booming serves that, had the opponent been anyone but Serena Williams, they would have been countless aces.

After taking the first set 6-2 it was almost as if Lisicki realised what she’d done, and to whom.
Certainly Williams turned the screw after he first game, winning the next nine on the trot, locking into her returns and many up in the lofty (and drafty) gods nodded their heads sagely and reckoned they had time for a quick burst of strawberries before Murray.

The second set and to be honest quite a lot of the third scooted past Lisicki as Williams reeled off nine games in a row.

But let’s face it, if you are going to break the world No. 1, you may as well wait until your back is against the wall.

Somewhat inconceivably, after a bunch of traded breaks Lisicki found herself ahead for the first time since the start of the second set.

Was it a nervy service game? – Well yes, of course it was, weaving from match point, to break point, to match point again, the crowds were oohing and aahing like it was a firework show.

The final rally was one to savour and the forehand winner saw Williams AND Lisicki sprawling – for different reasons, Williams at full stretch to get on the end of the eventual winner and Lisicki on realising she had put out the defending champion, and world no. 1.

Take absolutely nothing away from Lisicki, she has a superb game for grass, and she took those opportunities when they presented themselves.

Lisicki has reached the quarterfinals twice (2009, 2012) and the semifinals once (2011).

She faces Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi for the first time in Tuesday’s quarter-final.

 

Andy Murray [2] def. Mikhail Youzhny [20] 6-4, 7-6(5), 6-1

Murray has looked in good form, and many expected this to be a straight sets victory, but that was really only half the story.

From the outset, it was a more passive Murray that took to the court, content to build up points and push Youzhny to the error, and getting an early break to edge out the first set made it seem a formality.

There was always a feeling that if Youzhny suddenly dialled in, Murray could be in big trouble as the second set seemed to be counter-puncher heaven (or hell, depending on your point of view).

Each seemed to want to out-wait-for-the-error with Youzhny inducing a fair share from the Murray racquet.

More by luck than judgement, Murray took the tiebreak with the tightness of margins.

Even though Murray looks to be in discomfort for much of the second set, it was Youzhny that took the medical time out before the start of the third set.

Finally in the third set, Murray started to shorten the points and introduced a little more serve and volley – his reward being two breaks enough to seal the match.

He was sensible enough in press to acknowledge that this Wimbledon has seen a lot of shocks (to put it mildly).

Murray will face Fernando Verdasco in the quarter-final, and somehow made getting through another round without dropping a set seem like really hard work.

Nokak Djokovic [1] def. Tommy Haas [13] 6-1, 6-4, 7-6(4)
If the match before felt like a five-setter, Djokovic was on hand to remind us what a straight sets win actually looks like, at least in the first set,

That was little more than a rout but Haas seemed to get better as the match went in, as opposed to disheartened.

By the time he had forced a tiebreak in the third set, Haas was swinging free as Djokovic was slipping and sliding and one could only imagine the winces of the groundsmen as he slid this way and that (and yes, took the obligatory tumble).

Haas is nothing, if not a fighter, and as the light was beginning to fade, there was a very real chance this might have to be finished under the lights, had Haas forced a fourth set.

But there seem to be no chinks in Djokovic’s armour today – his returning, and movement is going to make him quite a formidable barrier for the remainder of the week.

Ros Satar is a British Journalist- an IT journalist by day, and a sports journalist in all the gaps in between. Follow her tournament updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN. She is the co-founder of Britwatch Sports (britwatchsports.com). Follow her personal twitter at @rfsatar.

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Top Seeds Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams Ease into Wimbledon Round of 16

Novak Djokovic3

(June 29, 2013) Top seeds Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams showed their dominance on the Centre Court of Wimbledon on Saturday, each with straight set victories to advance to the round of 16.

Williams won 600th career match by demolishing 42-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm 6-2, 6-0 under the lights of the closed roof of Centre Court.  Williams has become the 15th WTA player 600 career tour match wins. Date-Krumm is the oldest woman to make the third round of The Championships.

Williams was utterly dominant against her Japanese opponent hitting 28 winners. Williams hit 8 aces and broke serve 5 times.

“I honestly never thought I would play until my 30s, to be honest,” said the 31-year-old Williams.  “I don’t see my stopping any time soon.

“However, I don’t see myself playing into my 40s.  That’s why I have so much respect for Kimiko Date.  She’s playing so well and she’s so fit and she’s so good.”

SWilliams will play 23rd seed Sabine Lisicki in the fourth round on Monday.  Lisicki defeated 2011 U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur, the 14th seed 4-6, 6-2, 6-1.

No. 1 Novak Djokovic blew his opponent off court, beating Jeremy Chardy 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.

“It was a fantastic match,” said the world No. 1.  “I felt great from the start till the end.  I had that super focus, you know, and tried to, you know, be out there every point and not allow him to come back to the match or to have any chance.

“I saw the stats that I won 100% of first serves and I served over 80% of serves in in the whole match.  That was incredible for me.  I enjoyed every moment of it, especially at the end.  I managed to read his serve.  Everything went well.  So when you play that well, obviously you feel great, you feel confident.

“This kind of performance came in the right time for me.”

Djokovic was almost perfect as he committed only three unforced errors, winning 93% of first serve points.

Djokovic will play Tommy Haas in the fourth. The 35-year-old 13th seed Haas stopped Feliciano Lopez 4-6, 6-2, 7-5, 6-4.

“I’m looking at my next opponent, that I’m playing Djokovic again, which I’m really looking forward to,” Haas said.

No. 4 David Ferrer survived a five-set clash with Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-7 (6), 7-6 (2), 2-6, 6-1, 6-2.

No. 6 seed Li Na escaped Klara Zakopalova 4-6, 6-0, 8-6.  Zakopalova actually served for the match at 6-5 in the third set, only to see Li win the next three games.

“Is pretty tough match,” said Li.  “I mean, she has to serve for the match.

“But I was really happy I didn’t give up.  Still hang in there, yeah.  Fight like crazy, but still at least I will be in the second week of Wimbledon”

Bernard Tomic who made history back in 2011 by becoming the youngest quarterfinalist  at 18 since Boris Becker in 1985 defeated 9th seed Richard Gasquet 7-6 (7), 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (5) in the third round.

Tomic’s father and coach John is prohibited from attending The Championships and other tennis tournaments. John Tomic is accused of assaulting his son’s practice partner during the Madrid Open.

Despite his father’s absence from being courtside, Tomic is still getting advice from his father.

“When I leave the site, I’m with my dad.  He’s helping me at this tournament.  We’re doing the right things.

“This is why the results are showing off now.  I’m not doing it on my own.  My dad is still involved.  That’s why I’ve gotten to where I am in this tournament and the results have shown.”

Tomic will face Tomas Berdych in the round of 16. The former Wimbledon finalist defeated 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-5.

No. 8 seed Juan Martin Del Potro survived a fall on the court to beat Grega Zemlja 7-5, 7-6 (3), 6-0.

“I was going for the dropshot and I twist my ankle,” Del Potro said describing his fall.  “I did like hyperextended my knee, as well.  It was really painful.  I was a little scared at that moment.

“I finish the match very quick.  Now I start to feel something in my knee and my ankle, as well.  I will check with the doctor very soon.”

Del Potro will take on Andreas Seppi who defeated 12th seeded Kei Nishikori 3-6, 6-2, 6-7 (4), 6-1, 6-4.

 

No. 4 seed and 2012 Wimbledon finalist Agnieszka Radwanska, withstood  the challenge from promising American teenager Madison Keys to win 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.

Keys fired 15 aces in the loss. “I was kind of impressed with my serving today,” Keys said with a smile.

“I think (the momentum changed) in the third set when she broke me, that really just kind of, you know, changed the momentum up a little bit,” Keys commented.

“She was really playing great tennis,” Radwanska said.  “Especially she was serving unbelievable.  Even when I have some breakpoints and couple times couldn’t do anything.”

2011 champion Petra Kvitova came back from a break down in the final set to stop Ekaterina Makarova of Russia 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 in a resumption of a match halted by darkness on Friday with Makarova up 2-1 in the third set.

“It was another day for me,” Kvitova said.  “Yesterday when we start to play was quite close every game, and we were keeping our serves with 3‑All.  Then after suspended, I play so well, I came back to the court.  I was really on fire.”

“I should go for every point and play my game, Kvitova said.  “So I played quite aggressively.  That was the key.”

Laura Robson made the home folks happy for the second day in a row when the Briton came back from a set and a break down to erase Marina Erakovic of New Zealand 1-6, 7-5, 6-3. Robson broke Erakovic’s serve as the New Zealander was serving for the match in the second set.

A controversial call came in the second set when Robson challenged a call which was called out and overturned. The point was replayed and Erakovic double faulted to give Robson the set 7-5.

Robson explained the turnaround to press: “In the beginning she was just playing really, really well.  And, you know, her serve was firing, so I wasn’t getting a chance on her service games.

“Then, you know, wasn’t quite, uhm, hitting the ball well enough in my service games as well.  So she was just on top of things.

Y”eah, that’s the way it goes sometimes.  But you just have to hang in and wait for them to start making a few errors.”

With the win Robson becomes the first British woman since 1991 to reach the fourth round at Wimbledon. She will also be the first woman to reach the WTA top 30 since 1987.

“It’s now my second time in the second week of a Slam, so that’s pretty cool. Except at the U.S. Open, I played on the Sunday, so it didn’t quite feel like a `second week,’” Robson said to media, “and my brother said it didn’t count.”

Sloane Stephens the 17th seed completed a darkness-delayed match by stopping 196th ranked qualifier Petra Cetkovska 7-6 (3), 0-6, 6-4.

It’s been good fortnight for the over-30 set at Wimbledon. Nine players 30-and-over have reached the round of 16 at 2013 Wimbledon -Tommy Haas, Jurgen Melzer, David Ferrer, Lukasz Kubot,  Mikhail Youzhny, Serena Williams, Li Na, Flavia Pennetta, and Roberta Vinci. It’s a record for the most combined 30-somethings into the fourth round at Wimbledon in the Open Era, equaling the feat also done in1975.

On Monday both the men and women will play in the round of 16, here are the match-ups:

Men

Novak Djokovic vs. Tommy Haas

Bernard Tomic vs. Tomas Berdych

David Ferrer vs. Ivan Dodig

Andreas Seppi  vs. Juan Martin Del Potro

Lukasz Kubot vs. Adrin Mannarino

Fernando Verdasco vs. Kenny De Schepper

Mikhail Youzhny vs. Andy Murray

 

Women

Serena Williams vs. Sabine Lisicki

Laura Robson vs. Kaia Kanepi

Agnieszka Radwanska vs.  Tsvetana Pironkova

Roberta Vinci vs Li Na

Sloane Stephens vs. Monica Puig

Marion Bartoli vs. Karin Knapp

Petra Kvitova vs. Carla Suarez Navarro

Kirsten Filpkens vs. Flavia Pennetta

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Britain’s Laura Robson Ousts Tenth Seed Maria Kirilenko at Wimbledon

LauraRobson for Wilson

(June 25, 2013) Teenager Laura Robson became the first British woman to knock out a top ten player at Wimbledon since 1998 when she beat No. 10 Maria Kirilenko 6-3, 6-4 in the first round on Tuesday. The last time it happened it was Britain’s Sam Smith taking down No. 7 Conchita Martinez.

It was a big win for me,” Robson said. “I think it was good that I managed to tough it out after I got so nervous in the second set.  And, yeah, I’m happy.”

A former junior Wimbledon champion, Robson used her big serve to overpower the Russian. Robson and Andy Murray remain the only singles players from Great Britain still in the draw.

Robson’s victory was celebrated by Great Britain’s Prime Minister Davis Cameron who tweeted:

 

In her post-match news conference Robson was vehement in defending women’s tennis in Great Britain. When asked about what’s wrong with women’s tennis in her country she replied: “Nothing.  You know, I think everyone had tough matches.  You know, before this week, everyone was playing really well.  So it’s unfortunate that no one else made the second round.

“But that happens sometimes.  Last year I lost in the first round.  So, uhm, yeah, you know, you go through stages of ups and downs like everyone else.”

This was the 19-year-old’s third victory over a top ten player. At the 2012 U.S. Open she defeated Li Na and Kim Clijsters.

“I think I go out against the top players with nothing to lose, ” Robson said.  “I’ve always been like that.  And in the past I’ve started out well in the first couple of games of the first set and then just not been able to hold on to that lead.

“I’ve been really happy with my progress with the last couple months with that and, yeah, just being able to tough out wins.”

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Donna Vekic and Madison Keys head the youngsters’ Charge in Birmingham and Beyond

 

Madison Keys

Madison Keys

By Tumaini Carayol

(June 13, 2013) BIRMINGHAM, UK – Women’s Tennis Association – says who? It’s the kids who are taking over the city of Birmingham. They’re seemingly hiding behind every corner, popping out of every doorway, exploiting every nook and cranny and wreaking havoc on the actual grown women, whose images the tour was named in.

With every glance towards this group of young adolescents, they appear to be multiplying, evolving and becoming increasingly impossible to shun or ignore. Whenever seemingly all up-and-comers are accounted for, a new player smashes through into relevance and demands to be counted. When one youngster crumbles, another stands tall. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, of course; the glorious past has reaped far younger supernovas, far more talented youngsters and in far quicker time. But at a time when the well of everlasting talent appeared to have all but impossibly dried up, this group of fresh, new faces yet to bear the battle scars and wear-and-tear of life on tour are a welcome, or at least necessary quench to this thirst.

A myriad of pretenders have already said their hopeful hellos, before fruitlessly sweeping off into the night. Heather Watson and Laura Robson, supposedly the main event, were brushed aside yesterday on home turf without a set between them. Meanwhile, 20 year-old Ajla Tomljanovic, whose ranking came to a screeching halt just inside the top 200 for the better part of a year before contracting a difficult bout of mononucleosis, continued her glass ceiling-smashing comeback by qualifying and brushing aside defending champion Melanie Oudin before pushing top-seeded Kirsten Flipkens to the brink, in a performance undermined only by her inexperience. Only months into her return, she has already strolled effortlessly back to her career-high ranking with the promise of a deadly assault on the top 100 by year’s end. Others to make brief appearances in Birmingham included the likes of Eugenie Bouchard, Alison Van Uytvanck, Lauren Davis, Jana Cepelova, Elina Svitolina, Timea Babos, Yulia Putintseva and more – the list is mindnumbingly endless.

Today was the turn of former Junior Roland Garros champion and Junior
Wimbledon finalist Kristina Mladenovic to take her final bow. After also arriving at the gates of the top 200 quickly after her junior success, she too found the final transitional hurdle an irritant. 2013, however, has been generous to her, and as she served for the match at 6-5 in the second set against Daniela Hantuchova, things were only improving. Until that point, the young Frenchwoman looked in cruise control, using her devastating serve to supreme effect against an aging Hantuchova. But the Slovak, who appears to be reveling in her role of pantomime villain, devoured yet another child with cruel efficiency.

As of today, only two remain. Interestingly, they are the two youngest top 100-ers in this small army of youngsters, and perhaps the most promising.  Madison Keys was up first. After years of hype and expectations following her first WTA victory at the grand old age of 14, 2013 has been quite the coming-out party for her. Already she has ratcheted up a smattering of impressive results; not least her three different WTA quarterfinals on the pounding hardcourts of Sydney, the anonymous green clay of Charleston and today on the hallowed lawns of Birmingham; possibly hinting at an all-court domination to come.

Against Mona Barthel, Keys chuckled at the difference in rankings and delivered a stone-cold dismissal of her foe, making a mockery of the German’s sixth seeding with a 6-3, 6-2 victory. The result wasn’t exactly met with any surprise, but the manner in which she coolly brushed aside any challenge from the talented German was priceless. Usually, even when playing at the height of their powers, it’s the lower ranked player exerting the most effort as they fight to remain at a level they can only dream of maintaining consistently. However, the roles were reversed and it was Keys who played with such calm irreverence, competing with energy to spare. The American finished off the match with two booming aces – each down the ‘T’ – having faced only one break point in the entire match, sending a Serena-esque message to the rest of the field that screamed: “You can’t beat what
you can’t put your racket on.”

Vekic was next. Even younger than Keys, her ascension through the rankings should prove a valuable lesson to all those who follow in her footsteps. She and her coach, David Felgate, shrugged aside the conventional route of first competing in juniors - and usually acquiring countless dreadful habits in the process. Instead, they headed straight for the futures and challengers. Not the ones around her native Croatia or where she resides in the UK, no. Rather, they targeted the ITFs in the anonymous parts of Eastern Europe and Asia, picking like vultures at the weakest points on offer. It allowed her to play at the level appropriate to her age whilst earning points and finding herself in situations – both on and off the court – actually relevant to her future in the sport.

And here she is in her second tour quarterfinal. Two days ago, she quickly fell down 0-2 to seeded Urszula Radwanska. It was then that, seemingly on a whim, she decided to teach her eighth-seeded opponent a lifelong lesson in pure, unadulterated aggressive tennis. It was a battering, a demolition job so loud and clear that the pole’s ears are likely still  ringing from the sound the balls made as they bounced squarely on every line and passed her by, hopelessly out of reach.

But today was different. Against an irritatingly generic grinder in the American college tennis graduate Maria Sanchez, and on an energy-sapping outside court, Vekic was forced to retreat within herself in order to conquer and advance. She played with far more control and caution, righting the ship by forcing the American into high-paced rallies that simply overwhelmed her underpowered college-groomed game and left her hemorrhaging errors. It hinted at yet another benefit borne out of her enriching experiences on the challenger circuit – a self-awareness far beyond that of the average sixteen year-old junior.

One of the enduring and undeniably true critiques of this new, upcoming generation – one that can be heard frantically whispered with every new youngster’s success – is the one-dimensionality of almost each and every one of them. The sophisticated layers previously required to be a top player – the hybrid between defense and offence, variety and simplicity – are nowhere to be seen. Instead, they fit far too snugly into the boxes of playing styles. Some are underpowered retrievers, others are immobile attackers and few can pull off a remotely passable impersonation of any other style of play. But, at least for now, this group of youngsters who have ascended almost simultaneously onto the tour, overwhelming us by their pure numbers and stealing our attention both this week, before and beyond, are
surely here to stay. And we will be watching.

Tumaini Carayol covering the AEGON Classic in Birmingham for Tennis Panorama News. He is a contributing writer at On The Baseline, and writes about professional tennis at his site Foot Fault. Follow his tournament updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.

AEGON CLASSIC
Birmingham, England
June 10-16, 2013
$235,000/International
Grass/Outdoors

Results - Thursday, June 13, 2013
Singles – Third Round
(16) Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK) d. (1) Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) 76(5) 62
(3) Sorana Cirstea (ROU) d. (13) Bojana Jovanovski (SRB) 61 16 61
(5) Sabine Lisicki (GER) d. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (CRO) 75 26 64
Madison Keys (USA) d. (6) Mona Barthel (GER) 63 62
Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) d. (12) Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 36 76(6) 64
(15) Francesca Schiavone (ITA) d. Marina Erakovic (NZL) 76(3) 63
Donna Vekic (CRO) d. (Q) Maria Sanchez (USA) 46 62 62
(Q) Alison Riske (USA) d. (Q) Alla Kudryavtseva (RUS) 61 62

Doubles – Quarterfinals
Black/Erakovic (ZIM/NZL) d. (2) Chan/Huber (TPE/USA) 26 63 107 (Match TB)

Doubles – First Round
(1) Kops-Jones/Spears (USA/USA) d. Castaño/Daniilidou (COL/GRE) 61 61
(4) Hantuchova/Hsieh (SVK/TPE) d. Jurak/Tanasugarn (CRO/THA) 36 61 102 (Match TB)
Date-Krumm/Parra Santonja (JPN/ESP) d. Aoyama/Moulton-Levy (JPN/USA) 61 75
Barthel/Mladenovic (GER/FRA) d. Dushevina/Watson (RUS/GBR) w/o (Watson: mid back injury)

Order Of Play – Friday, June 14, 2013
Ann Jones Centre Court (from 11.00hrs)
1. Sorana Cirstea vs. Donna Vekic
2. Daniela Hantuchova vs. Francesca Schiavone
3. Magdalena Rybarikova vs. Madison Keys
4. Sabine Lisicki vs. Alison Riske

Court 1 (from 11.00hrs)
1. Kops-Jones/Spears vs. Barthel/Mladenovic
2. Barty/Dellacqua vs. Kudryavtseva/Rodionova
3. Date-Krumm/Parra Santonja vs. Hantuchova/Hsieh (NB 16.30hrs; after suitable rest)

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Heather Watson and Laura Robson Bite the Bullet in Birmingham

 

By Tumaini Carayol

(June 12, 2013) BIRMINGHAM, UK – Kicking off the day’s play on Wednesday at the AEGON Classic was the pride and joy of Britain, Heather Watson and Laura Robson, back to back.

Considering the later slots are usually reserved for the feature players, the tournament’s decision to place the pair first and second on was certainly an interesting one. it perhaps told of their certainly that both women would advance to the next round, allowing them the home-court advantage of optimum recovery time and the greatest chance of completing their matches should the rains have opened up and swallowed them whole.

Their faith was not rewarded.

First came Watson, who happily triumphed on Tuesday, recording her first victory since Memphis in February after a well-publicized bout of mononucleosis left her debilitated and eventually forced her from the tennis
courts and into her bed.

She could not repeat the trick, however, falling 6-4 6-3 to Alla Kudryavtseva in an eerily identical score to her first ever victory.

She was understandably disappointed afterwards.

“I definitely didn’t play well today,” she said. “I made a lot of unforced errors and my serve was really awful but she was a much tougher opponent today.”

“She was good off the baseline and she returned well. At the end of the day, you’ve got to go and win it and she did but, me, I wasn’t pleased with my game today.”

“It was frustrating because I played well in my first match and I thought it was going to get even better today but it was the total opposite. I felt fine today. I just think I was a bit slow to the ball and slow thinking, which comes from not playing. I just need to get used to that. I thought today was a good opportunity and I feel like I’ve let it go. If I want to get back then I need to find a way even when I’m not playing so well.”

Next came seventh-seeded Laura Robson, who also coincidentally found herself against one of her first grasscourt foes in Daniela Hantuchova. The pair had faced each other at Wimbledon in 2009 – the year after a 14-year old Robson triumphed in the junior event.

Despite the tricky draw, Robson was certainly favored against her aging opponent. In fact, given the Brit’s rising reputation for peaking against the best and finding herself below top form against the rest, in many ways it could be considered a helpful draw beforehand.

Helpful it was not, however. Two lethargic starts to both sets was enough to send her packing as she lost her serve in her first service game each time and failed to retrieve them.

“I definitely could’ve moved up to the ball a bit more,” she said afterwards. “It is definitely something I could work on a bit more, but I thought Daniela played very well today.

“I just have to keep practicing and stay confident and keep focusing.”

And with that, the two home favorites bit the dust. Luckily for the Birmingham faithful, however, they still have one home favorite left after Donna Vekic‘s scintillating exhibition of attacking tennis yesterday was only bettered by the post-match revelation that she resides in England and converses in a mostly-English accent. Expect the 16 year-old Croatian Londoner to continually pick up the slack left by the real Brits both this week and in years to come.

Tumaini Carayol covering the AEGON Classic in Birmingham for Tennis Panorama News. He is a contributing writer at On The Baseline, and writes about professional tennis at his site Foot Fault. Follow his tournament updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.

AEGON CLASSIC
Birmingham, England
June 10-16, 2013
$235,000/International
Grass/Outdoors

Results - Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Singles – Second Round
(1) Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) d. (Q) Ajla Tomljanovic (CRO) 46 64 75
Marina Erakovic (NZL) d. (2) Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) 76(6) 36 60
(3) Sorana Cirstea (ROU) d. Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL) 64 64
(5) Sabine Lisicki (GER) d. Kristyna Pliskova (CZE) 64 62
Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) d. (7) Laura Robson (GBR) 63 64
Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (CRO) d. (9) Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) 64 60
(12) Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) d. (WC) Johanna Konta (GBR) 64 61
(13) Bojana Jovanovski (SRB) d. Andrea Hlavackova (CZE) 46 61 64
(Q) Alla Kudryavtseva (RUS) d. (14) Heather Watson (GBR) 64 63
(15) Francesca Schiavone (ITA) d. (Q) Nadiya Kichenok (UKR) 76(4) 62
(16) Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK) d. Mathilde Johansson (FRA) 75 67(4) 64
(Q) Maria Sanchez (USA) d. (Q) Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) 76(3) 63

Order Of Play – Thursday, June 13, 2013
Ann Jones Centre Court (from 11.00hrs)
1. Daniela Hantuchova vs. Kristina Mladenovic
2. Sorana Cirstea vs. Bojana Jovanovski
3. Francesca Schiavone vs. Marina Erakovic
4. Sabine Lisicki vs. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni
5. Black/Erakovic vs. Chan/Huber

Court 1 (from 11.00hrs)
1. Madison Keys vs. Mona Barthel
2. Maria Sanchez vs. Donna Vekic
3. Kirsten Flipkens vs. Magdalena Rybarikova
4. Alla Kudryavtseva vs. Alison Riske

Court 3 (from 11.00hrs)
1. Date-Krumm/Parra Santonja vs. Aoyama/Moulton-Levy
2. Kops-Jones/Spears vs. Castaño/Daniilidou
3. Barthel/Mladenovic vs. Dushevina/Watson
4. Jurak/Tanasugarn vs. Hantuchova/Hsieh

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Wozniacki Ends Five-Match Skid with Win over Robson in Paris

 

"Austin Powers" and Caroline Wozniacki

“Austin Powers” and Caroline Wozniacki

By Ros Satar

(May 27, 2013) PARIS – Caroline Wozniacki booked her place into the second round with a straight sets win over British No. 1 Laura Robson 6-3, 6-2.

 

Despite having early round exits in the clay tournaments preceding the French Open, the Dane seemed to settle into her rhythm earlier than Robson.

 

Had Robson made more of the three break point opportunities, things may have been a different story.

 

Robson said: “If I had taken those, maybe it would have been a different match.

 

“After that, I kind of was just going for a little bit too much.

 

“She moves so well, so I was just trying to get her out of the court.”

 

Wozniacki broke first, thanks to two Robson double faults, and although she was able to break back, she could not keep a handle on the errors.

 

Things did not improve for her in the second set, with two breaks for the Dane.

 

A late break back for Robson was not enough to stop the 10th seed as she progresses to the second round.

 

Wozniacki had an indifferent clay campaign preceding the French Open, and was happy to get the win.

 

She said: “I went into the match believing in myself and believing that, you know, I was going out there to win, of course.

 

“I knew it was going to be a tough match because Laura is a great player.”

 

She also shed some light about what her new coach should be able to provide, in light of her father, Piotr’s announcement that he would be taking a back seat in terms of his daughter’s career.

 

“It’s important to find the balance between someone who is really good and can push you on the court but also lets you live your life off the court.”

 

Wozniacki will meet Serbia’s Jovanovski in the second round.

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Robson Upsets Radwanska in Madrid

LauraRobson for Wilson

By Tumaini Carayol

(May 6, 2013) Though the smell of sun lotion still lingered permanently in the air, by the time Laura Robson and Agnieszka Radwanska shuffled onto the third biggest court in the Caja Magica, the sun that earlier shone down furiously over the stadium had long since departed. Replacing the impossible shadows it created was a level shade as visibility reached 20/20 for the first time all day.

 

Since the Australian Open, Robson had managed only two victories in her previous nine WTA matches. Her game appeared to collapse, playing to the level of lower-ranked opponents she should beat. So when Laura Robson and Agnieszka Radwanska were paired together, though their names appeared an interesting match on paper, the idea that the Brit would actually win on clay seemed impossible.

 

Despite that, as Robson stepped up to the baseline the very first time, something had changed. From the very first point – a well-struck first serve followed by an irreverent forehand down-the-line winner – she appeared cool and confident, a deadly combination. That point would set the tone for the remainder of the match as the following games showcased Robson at her ball-striking best. There is a tendency for people to make rash comparisons with Robson’s fellow big-hitting lefty Petra Kvitova, but whilst the Czech also combines great technique and clean shotmaking, Robson’s aggression is a product of her perfect timing as opposed to the brutal natural power Kvitova wields.

 

Still, the fourth seed initially held resolute on her opening service games, forcing return errors and refusing to relinquish the parity that graced the first six games. However, as Robson slowly began to find her range on her return of serve – particularly her angled crosscourt backhand return – the match brisquely cracked open.

 

At 4-3, Robson charged. During the prior game, Robson had quite literally charged down a deft lob from Radwanska, spectacularly turning the point on its head with defense that was unimaginable a year earlier. She carried this momentum into the following game and, after brushing aside a number of Radwanska game points, she was offered her first break point. Only a routine second serve forehand return stood between the Brit’s forehand flew long. However, presented with an identical forehand on her second set points moments later, Robson showed great maturity to simply put the return back into play. Radwanska’s forehand crashed straight into the net and she had her first game.

 

With the remaining shackles released, Robson refused to look back as she held her serve to love, sealing the set with a laughably composed ad-court serve out wide followed by a simple forehand winner to the opposite corner. Only one game was lost in the second set as she powered to the biggest victory of her career, demolishing the fourth best player in the world on her worst surface.

 

In essence, the Brit moved in perfect unison with the stadium as, in the cool shade of zero pressure, she shone once again.

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