2014/04/25

Serena Williams Wins A Record-Setting Seventh Miami Title at the Sony Open

By Kevin Ware

(March 29, 2014) MIAMI – Serena Williams won her seventh Sony Open title over Li Na in straight sets, 7-5, 6-1.

With this win, Williams becomes the winningest player in the tournament’s history. Competing in her ninth final, Williams’ seven titles now eclipses the six won by Andre Agassi. She has the most main draw match wins in tournament history (67), and joins Chris Evert, Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova as the fourth player in the Open Era to win the same tournament seven or more times.

None of this would have come to pass, however, if Williams hadn’t willed herself into yet another brilliant comeback after an error-filled start to the women’s final. In her semi against Maria Sharapova, Williams found herself in a deep hole, down 1-4. In her final against Li Na, the reigning Australian Open champion, she once again found herself behind the eight ball.

The statistics tell the story of Williams struggles, with a first-serve percentage at 42%, 3 double faults, and 21 unforced errors against only 15 winners. While it’s true that Li Na got off to a great start with her own game, Williams was her own worst enemy. And then, two breaks down and fighting to stay in the set at 2-5, Williams rediscovered her championship mettle.

Forehands that had previously found the bottom of the net were hitting their mark deep in the corners or on the back of the baseline, her “down the line” backhand became untouchable, and her serve became the weapon that we’ve all come to expect from World No. 1.

The rest is history. Williams went on to win 11 of the next 12 games, fighting off one set point at 4-5 before winning a closely-fought first set, and rolling through the second. It was a vintage performance from a player who seems to play her best when facing defeat.

When asked about this particular trend in her post-match news conference, Williams was quick to say, “I definitely don’t do it on purpose.”

“I think for the most part, I try to do the best I can, and sometimes, you know, things I’m doing don’t work out, but they are the right things and eventually they start to work.”

Li Na had her chances to close out the set, but was broken twice in the process. The second of those breaks, lasting 6 deuces, handed the first set to Williams. After relinquishing such a big lead, one might expect a certain amount of frustration or disappointment. But Li Na, who’s gained a newfound sense of calm since beginning her work with coach Carlos Rodriguez, was pragmatic about the lead that slipped away.

“I don’t have to see how was the score, because even the match didn’t finish yet.  Still everyone has a chance.” She went on to add, “I think this is tennis, because if I was play more aggressive, for sure she will going back a little bit.  If she play a little bit forward, I have to going back a little bit. So this is tennis.”

In spite of the loss, Li was happy with her game. “I mean, really nothing to say.  I don’t think today I was doing like a wrong game plan or I was play totally wrong. I think it was pretty good match.”

The second set was a cleaner affair for Williams. Though her first serve percentage remained low at 43%, she managed to win 90% of first serve points and 61% of second serve points. More importantly, she didn’t allow her serving woes to bring down the rest of her game as it has in past matches.

“I think now if my serve isn’t great, it’s okay because I have a great forehand, I have a great backhand, I have great speed.”

“You know, I have so many things that I want to have a backup plan, because today I only served at 40%.  I still have to figure out a way to win doing that.” Her backup plan was clearly more than enough to overcome on this day.

With 59 titles under her belt, and a slew WTA records, Williams could justifiably retire tomorrow as one of the all-time greats. I was curious to know just how this future Hall of Famer continues to challenge herself when there’s so little left to prove.

“I think I love the challenge, and I feel like if I feel like I can be the best right now, then why not continue to be the best and do the best that I can?”

Spoken like a true champion.

Kevin Ware is in Key Biscayne covering the Sony Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his live updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.  Follow his personal twitter @SFTennisFreak.

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Li and Cibulkova Reach Sony Open Semis

 

Dominika Cibulkova ©Sony Open Tennis

Dominika Cibulkova ©Sony Open Tennis

(March 26, 2014) It will be a rematch of the Australian Open women’s final in the semifinal of the Sony Open as both Li Na and Dominika Cibulkova advanced on Wednesday. Li won the Australian Open in straight sets for her second major title.

No. 10 seed Dominika Cibulkova saved  three match points in the second set en route to a 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-3 victory over Agnieszka Radwanska, No. 2 Li Na won the last 4 straight games to close out Caroline Wozniacki 7-5, 7-5.

Cibulkova won despite poor serving and unforced errors. She had her serve broken 10 times and double-faulted 8times, committing 51 unforced errors.

One of her match points saved came on a controversial call which was overturned due a challenge.

He match against Radwanska was a repeat of the Arustralian Open semifinal where the Slovak won over the Pole to make her first major final.

The Slovak who is in the Sony Open semis for the first time, will enter the top ten for the first time when the rankings come out on Monday.

“I’m really glad, especially about my win today,” Cibulkova said.

“It wasn’t easy at all to play today against Aga with the wind and conditions, and I had to stay aggressive all the time even if I missed many shots, you know.  I just had to keep going.

“So today the match was really tough, and I’m happy about everything, you know.  Before the match, even before the tournament, like they keep asking me, Top 10 and everything, and I just, you know, I just said, like, Okay, if I should be there, I will be there.  If I should not be there, I will not be there.

“So now I’m there.  So finally it’s over.”

“I think it was so close, the second set,” Radwanska said.  “But I think, you know, in those matches you have to play good and you have to be lucky.

“I was just playing good and she was both.”

With Li Na’s win, she became the first Chinese player to reach the Sony Open semifinals.

“I think today I was feeling she was the best to defend in all the tour, so I was feeling a little bit like player against a wall,” Li said about her match against Wozniacki.  “Because doesn’t matter where is it.  She always come and put the ball back to my court.

“After I was finished the match, I was feeling, Wow, you doing good.  You beat a wall.  Yeah.”

Li Na now leads the tour with 20 match wins on the season

On Thursday six–time Sony Open winner No. 1 Serena Williams will take on five-time finalist and No. 4 seed Maria Sharapova in the first women’s semifinal. Williams holds a 15-2 record against the Russian, winning the last 14 straight.

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Li Na Fights Off Madison Keys to Reach Sony Open Fourth Round

Li Na

(March 23, 2014) Li Na held off Madison Keys 7-6(3), 6-3 in a slugfest on Sunday morning at the Sony Open to reach the fourth round.

The world No. 2 and young American who are both represented by agent Max Eisenbud, each broke serve three time in the opening set. Along with hitting deep groundstrokes, both women committed tons of unforced errors.

Li saved set points, down 3-5 in first set and was forced to rebound from being a break down at 0-2 early in the second set. Keys was within a point of going up 3-0 in the second set.

“I think it was pretty tough match,” Li said.  “I think she play well, big serve, big forehand, especially when she was like 3‑1 down and then come back 5‑3‑up and serve for the first set.

“During that time I didn’t think about too much.  I say, Okay, try to hit the ball, try to do what you have to do, and I think the, how you say, save the set point was give me a not lot, but at least I was still on the first set.

“So I think this was maybe change the match a little bit, because after that I was feeling she’s drop a little bit.”

“She’s No. 2 in the world for a reason,” Keys said.  “She just won Australian Open for a reason.  She’s a great player.”

“I played well at times, and she just played the bigger points, you know, really, really well.

“So, I mean, there is a lot to be happy with, but there is also some stuff I need to work on.  That’s what I’m going to go do.”

“I definitely think at times I was doing a good job at taking time away, moving forward a little bit better, and looking for my forehand,” Keys said.

My serve was a little bit up and down today.  But, I mean, overall I think I did a good job of staying in the moment.

Li will play Carla Suarez Navarro in the fourth round.

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Confident Venus Williams Advances at Sony Open

(March 21, 2014) Three-time former Sony Open winner Venus Williams defeated Anna Schmiedlova 6-3, 6-3. Williams at 33 is the the oldest player in the women’s draw and is playing in Key Biscayne for the 15th time.

It’s her first match since winning the Dubai title last month.

“I have been working hard since then, and I feel really confident, you know, in every situation I’m in on the court,” Venus Williams said.

“So I think that, you know, it was a big help for me in Dubai.”

“She’s competitive, a new player,” Williams said about playing Schmiedlova. “You never know what their game is really going to be like.  I’d never even seen her play.

Coming into Key Biscayne, Williams is on a win streak, riding a crest of confidence.

“I feel good on the court, she said.  “I feel like I have had a chance to play more matches this year than really lots and lots of years.  Many, many years, like four or five.

“So I think that’s been a great advantage for me, as well.  I’m looking forward to playing this tournament obviously and Family Circle, as well.  I’m looking forward to playing my third round I didn’t get to play last year.

My whole plan is to be playing.  That’s it.”

She’ll play in the third round against Casey Dellacqua.

 Li Na Nike

Sony Open No. 2 seed Li made it to the third round without striking a ball on Friday when her opponent Alisa Kleybanova pulled out of the tournament due to a viral illness.  Kleybanova, is making a comeback from Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

No. 6 Simona Halep also pulled out of the tournament due to a right toe injury.

2012 champion Agnieszka Radwanska stopped Romina Oprandi 6-0, 6-4.

Other seeded women winners on the day included (10) Dominika Cibulkova over Yvonne Meusburger 6-1, 6-2, (11) Caroline Wozniacki had to fight her opponent and the crowd when she topped Monica Puig 6-1, 1-6, 6-3, (15) Carla Suarez Navarro beat Chanelle Scheepers 6-4, 6-1 and (17) Sloane Stephens won over Zarina Diyas 7-5, 6-3.

Vavara Lepchenko

Vavara Lepchenko

American Varvara Lepchenko pulled off the biggest upset of the day on the ladies side of the draw by beating No. 7 Jelena Jankovic 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (2). Other shockers included Barbora Zahlavova Strycova who topped 13 seed Roberta Vinci 6-4, 2-6, 7-5, Elina Svitolina stunned 21st seed Eugenie Bouchard 1-6, 6-1, 6-2, Ajla Tomljanovic defeated (30) Garbine Muguruza and young American Madison Keys stopped (31) Daniela Hantuchova 6-4, 6-2.

“I’m really happy about it,” Keys said.  “I mean, I think I served well.  I think that really helped me today.

The next challenge for Keys will be No. 2 seed Li Na in the third round.

“It’s such a good experience,” Keys said.

“She’s a great player.  She just won the Australian Open so she’s obviously doing well.

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Li Na to Meet Flavia Pennetta in Indian Wells Semis

(March 13, 2014) INDIAN WELLS – In a rematch of the Australian Open final, top seed Li Na defeated Dominika Cibulkova 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, while Flavia Pennetta battled past Sloane Stephens 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 and will face off in the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open

The match which lasted 2 hours and 36 minutes improved Li’s record to 17-1 on the year. The woman from China lost just her first set during the tournament.

This is Li’s first WTA Premier event where she’s the top seed.

Everything for me is new, top seed, first time on the big tournament,” Li said

“Of course, you know, everyone looking different.  Not like before if I come here, maybe like No. 6 or No. 7 seed.

“But I think I am handling very well, so just continue.”

With being the top seed and a two-time major winner Li is feeling special at Indian Wells.

“No, I feel like I’m much friendlier,” she said with a smile. “No, joke.”

“Even like practicing the fans were watching.  But I think I find more fans supporting my husband, not for me.  Even we are practicing, working out, if he hit a winner, everyone was like so happy.

“It was a pretty tough match today,” said Cibulkova.  “I’m just disappointed a little bit that I didn’t win, because I had my chances today.”

“I think the biggest difference that I lost today was because her serve was better than mine.”

Flavia Pennetta had to endure a topsy-turvy two—hour and 26 minute match against Sloane Stephens. The Italian served for the match in both the second and third sets. She had to endure a dust storm with high winds and right herself after losing six straight games from the end of the second set to 0-3 in the third. Then she won six of the last seven games to seal the win on her fifth match point.

“I mean, we didn’t have a lot of fun today,” said the 32-year-old veteran.  “We didn’t play our best tennis.

“Maybe in the beginning we play much better, and in the second set one, but the third was a disaster for both of us.  I mean, I won.  I’m happy because I get through this match, but I don’t have a good feeling right now.  I mean, it’s normal.  Outside it’s crazy now.  It’s coming the wind from nowhere.

“But in the other part I’m really happy because I was down 3‑Love in the third, and I fight until the last point and the match was for me today.”

“I wasn’t playing my best at the beginning,” said Stephens.  “It was a bit up and down, but I just tried to battle and stay in there.  Second set was playing better and better.  Then the wind came, which was pretty unfortunate.

“I just tried to do my best and fight and battle for every point.  It was unfortunate that I lost.”

Pennetta

“It was a disaster,” the American said of the third set, agreeing with Pennetta who used those words during her post–match news conference  “It wasn’t super fun, super frustrating, but that happens sometimes.  You play tennis, so it is what it is.

“It really came out of nowhere.  Like I don’t even know what happened.  We just started the third set, and all of a sudden it was like ‑‑ it was like a windstorm.  I don’t know.  It was weird.”

Pennetta said her opponent has a bright future: “I think she’s already ‑‑ she’s 20, but she’s a good player.  She have a lot of matches, important matches.  She was in the semifinal already in a Grand Slam, so you are already a big champion for me.

“I mean, she’s one of the best players, of course.  In the future, I think she will be one of the best, top 10, for sure.

“She has everything:  unbelievable forehand; backhand; she improve a lot with the backhand in the last year; she’s powerful.”

“She play more or less like me, but she’s more powerful than me,” Pennetta said of her semifinal opponent Li Na.  “I have to be real aggressive tomorrow to try to take the situation, but is not going to be easy.”

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Wawrinka Dominates, Federer, Li Also Advance

 

 

Wawrinka in press

(March 10, 2014) INDIAN WELLS – Australian Open Men’s champion Stanislas Wawrinka dominated Andreas Seppi 6-0, 6-2 in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open on Monday.

“Today was amazing match,” said the world No. 3.  “Can’t complain.  “Playing that great, it’s good.  That level, depends a little bit who you play, but I’m really, really happy with my match today.

“I’m moving really well, and every time I can play aggressive it makes a difference.”

Asked if he plays to reach No. 1, the top Swiss player said:

“No.  I’m too far away from No. 1.  I’m really far.  Look at the ranking.  Look at Rafa and Novak are there since many years.  They are winning minimum two Grand Slam a year, making final, semifinal, winning Masters 1000.

“But I know my level.  I know that I can play great tennis this year.  I never won a 500.  Never won a 1000 tournament.

“We’ll see.  I’m not thinking at all to be No. 1.  I’m just trying to improve, trying to win every match.  We will see.  I’m not expecting to win a Grand Slam but I did it, so anything can happen.”

Federer 382014

Swiss No. 2 Roger Federer needed to win a pair of tiebreaks to stop Dmitri Tusunov, closing the match out with an ace.

Federer said that he’s having a better year this year.

“I feel different this year,” Federer said. “Now I feel like I’m in a good place. Zen on the court. Even if I won 6 and 6 today, I just feel like I was calm. Those are the moments where you feel there is confidence around somewhere.”

Federer changed to a new racquet with a bigger head this year and the 17-time major champion updated the press corps o how he feels about it.

“It’s good.  I’m very happy.  I mean, I’m not really thinking of it, so that’s a major step in the right direction.  That’s the best you can ask for when you change racquets.

“Then you hope that success follows.  That’s happened, too.  That’s why basically ‑‑ I had a meeting with Wilson this week looking to see if there is any small changes coming up or if that’s how I’m going to keep it right now.

“So we’re just looking to see what’s going to happen the next sort of month or so.  I’m really happy about how it’s playing, how it’s given me extra power, easier power, just easier to play with it day in and day out.  And I think have the spin necessarily, but have the control there, too.

“I must say I’m overall very happy, and it’s exciting to play with a new racquet after so many years.”

 

Li Na

Li Na

Top seed Li Na defeated Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 6-4 to reach the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open.

“At least I can win the last point, and still, how do you say, stay on tournament,” Li said.

“You know, always tough, because first time to be the top seed in a big tournament and never have, how do you say, experience before.

“So it’s very tough to hang in there, especial beginning the tournament start.”

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Li Na and Maria Sharapova Advance While Angelique Kerber Falls at Indian Wells

 

 

Li Na

Li Na

(March 8, 2014) INDIAN WELLS, California – No. 1 seed Li Na beat Chinese countrywoman Zheng Jie 6-1, 7-5, while fourth seed Maria Sharapova began the defense of her title with an easy 6-1, 6-4 victory over Julia Goerges.

Two seeded German women fell – No. 5 seed Angelique Kerber was upset 2-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4 by Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor while Aleksandra Wozniack stopped No. 15 seed Sabine Lisicki 7-5, 1-6, 7-6 (5).

Former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic was a set and a break down before stopping Elina Svitolina.

“I just tried to fight her at every point,” Ivanovic said of the turnaround in the second set. It probably wasn’t the best game I had played. I had lot of unforced errors I tried to stick with it and play each point and not try to think about the errors that I made and just to put pressure on her forehand and that worked well for me. I was very happy to manage to come back.”

In the night session, Sloane Stephens ran off the last nine games in a 6-4, 6-0 win over Ajla Tomljanovic. Advancing easily were No. 8 seed Petra Kvitova, No. 11 Ana Ivanovic and No. 12 Dominika Cibulkova.

For Li Na, this is her second tournament since winning the Australian Open.

“This is the first match after Doha, two weeks, and of course for I cannot be 100 percent for the first match,” Li said. “But I was happy. At least I can learn something from today’s match.”

This also marks the first time that Li has been the top seed in a premier mandatory event.

“The first match always tough, because like I say before, you didn’t know what happen on the court,” Li said.  “All you can do is like to try to do your best.  If you cannot hit good tennis, only one way is running all the shots and to fight every point.”

“First time to be the top seed in a big tournament.  Yeah, at least I’m still in the tournament,” she said smiling.

Li will play Karolina Pliskova next in the third round, who took out No. 28 seed Klara Zakopalova 7-5, 6-2,

“The first matches are always a little bit tricky, especially having not played in a few weeks indoor or outdoor,” Sharapova said.

“Tricky opponent, and she’s capable of playing good tennis.  She hasn’t been as consistent as she probably would have liked recently, but she’s had her results.  She’s beaten top players before, so the first round, that’s never easy, but I thought I did what I had to do.  Certainly improvements that I could make.”

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Around the Grounds of the BNP Paribas Open in photos for March 8

(March 8, 2014) Photographer David Sweet (@DavidSweetPhoto) snapped photos all around the grounds  and n the interview room of the BNP Paribas Open on Saturday for Tennis Panorama News.

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Twizzles and Selfies in Notes and Quotes for Saturday at the BNP Paribas Open

 

(March 8, 2014) INDIAN WELLS, California – a quick at the more unusual player quotes from the BNP Paribas Open.

Maria Sharapova who was an NBC Olympic correspondent in Sochi was quizzed on the word “twizzle” after her straight sets win over Julia Goerges.

 Sharapova 382014 IW

 

Q.  Who is the coolest athlete you met, and do you know what a twizzle is?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  A twizzle?  Is that part of figure skating?  Right, right.  I don’t know if that was a trick question.

Who did I meet?  I met a lot of former athletes that were working for NBC, which was like Scott Hamilton.  I don’t know.  It was really bizarre just like having breakfast around each other like it was no big deal.  All these athletes getting together, not actually working on our sport, but that was special.

Q.  Did you and Johnny Weir hang out at all?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Unfortunately I missed him, but I was told we had a coat competition.  Yeah, we tried to upstage each other’s coats.  I brought 12 and he brought 25.  I mean, that’s pathetic.

Q.  Never going to win that battle?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, you never know.

Q.  Would you consult him for designing for Serena?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  That could be fun.  He could design for me, as well.

Serena Williams tweeted her approval for Sharapova’s dress. The Russian was quizzed about this and talked about tennis dresses and how she and Serena Williams could design one for each other.

Q.  I think Serena tweeted during your match that your outfit was totally cute.  She approved.

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Really?  Are those her exact words, Totally cute?

Q.  She said #approved.

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I think we have to exchange designs.  We have to design an outfit for each other.  That would be fun.  Without knowing…

Q.  Cat suit?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, I have to put an end to the cat suit on me (Laughter.)  I mean, I’m 26 already, so I think those days are over.

But that would be fun without telling each other what it is, just unveiling it.

Q.  You would trust each other to do that?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Oh, yeah.  That would be a lot of fun, don’t you think?  You guys would all show up for that, right?  (Laughter.)

We’re going to get great coverage.  Nike is going to be happy.  It’s all good.

Q.  What kind of ideas do you have for dressing up Serena then?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  It’s our secret.  Show up to the unveiling.

Q.  No hints?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  No hints.  I have a few things in mind, a few silhouettes.

 

 

Federer 382014

 

 

 

 

Roger Federer bested Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-2, 7-6(5). The Swiss who has been on twitter about a year was asked about taking “selfies,” as he has recently posted a couple on his twitter account.

Q.  On your year or so on Twitter, you have gotten very good at selfies.

ROGER FEDERER:  Yeah, okay.

Q.  If you could take a selfie with anybody, who would it be?

ROGER FEDERER:  Nobody.  I mean, this is totally for the supporters of me, whoever follows me or a fan of me, whoever it is, the people who do, you know, follow me on Twitter or Facebook.  Just trying to make it fun and different.

Took me a long time to sort of warm up to social media, because I just didn’t know how it’s supposed to be used ‑ even though there is no rule to it.  But I find some people use it in a very funny way and some in a very strange way

First, for myself, I had to find out what was going to be my direction.  I saw it more as giving more sort of the extra, you know, sort of hints, sort of my angle, an extra angle to our life on tour.

So it’s actually become quite enjoyable.  The last thing I want to feel is pressure that I have to take pictures or have to is something.  If I don’t want to post anything for weeks, I have the right to do that and that needs to be the case.

But I must say it’s pretty funny, and it doesn’t stress me out.  You just can’t being sucked into it too crazy, otherwise all you start doing is spending time on the phone, and that’s not what I want to start happening to me.

 

LiNa 382014

Li Na – no more doubles please.

 

Q.  We see a lot of the top players playing doubles at a tournament like this.  Why not you?

LI NA:  I think doubles court for me too small enough (Laughter.)  I don’t know.  Maybe last time I play doubles was 2007.  Or I play Olympics I think with a young girl.

When I was stand up the court I even didn’t know what I have to do.  Even I return, I was feeling the court so small.  Everywhere is people (smiling).  I cannot do it.

So for me, I really, how do you say, focus on my singles right now to see maybe I can, I even can improve a little bit.

Q.  Do you not like doubles?

LI NA:  Not really, no, because you have to, how do you say, talk to your opponent all the time.  Yeah.

Warinka in press

Stanislas Wawrinka and the boring questions.

Q.  Where have you placed the Australian Open trophy?  And when do you think it will start getting boring with all the questions and Australia and all the things you achieved over there?

STANISLAS WAWRINKA:  Well, I think I’m not going to get boring about those questions, you know.  It’s more about being Swiss No. 1 that’s annoying me.

But about winning Grand Slam, I think it’s great.  It’s positive.  So I can answer many few questions if you want.

The trophy is in Switzerland in a safe place

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Ready, Set, WTA All-Access at the BNP Paribas Open

 

(March 5, 2014) INDIAN WELLS, California – The top eight women’s seeds held court on Wednesday taking questions from the media during roundtable interviews at the BNP Paribas Open. Here are a few notes and quotes from session:

Aga Radwanska

Agnieszka Radwanska and the Cheesecake Factory

Radwanska professed her love for the Cheesecake Factory. She has inked a multi-year agreement with her favorite restaurant. She’ll be sporting the logo on her visor when she plays.

Radwanska says that she can complain about her season so far – two semifinals including the Australian Open.

Last year Radwanska became a blonde and is back to being a brunette. When asked about the change back to her natural hair color, she said “I prefer the dark hair. It was good to change sometimes.”

LI Na media crush

Li Na is the No. 1 Seed

With Serena Williams absent from Indian Wells, Li Na holds the mantle as the No. 1 seed for the tournament. “Feel pretty good,” Li Na said about having the top spot. This is the first time that she’s been the top seed at WTA Premier Mandatory event.

So what’s life after winner her second major like? She says not much different. “I signed a lot of autographs. But not contracts, OK? So looking forward to signing a lot of contracts,” she said.

 

Kerber

Angelique Kerber – Germany’s Fed Cup team members get a Porsche

So what does she think makes her game special? She says she has the ability to read her opponent’s game, and her defense – how she runs and fights for every point. “That’s what I have inside,” she said. As to what she thinks she needs to improve, she says that she needs to play more “aggressive” tennis.

Kerber spot fondly of being a member of Germany’s Fed Cup. She says they are all friends so everyone wants to play and there is a nice incentive – each Fed Cup team member gets a Porsche. Porsche is the sponsor of the Fed Cup team in Germany.

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova NBC Correspondent

“Carrying the torch was the biggest honor I could have received,” said  former Sochi native Sharapova in choosing between carrying the Olympic torch or Russia’s flag at the Olympic games.

In addition to her torch carrying duty, Sharapova was a correspondent for NBC during the Sochi games. “It was really fun,” said the Russian.

Asked if she would be interested in media in the future she said, ” I am not sure. I had a great time and I don’t know if that’s something I would do for long periods of time. I love that challenge of it.

“We shot for so many hours for a three minute clip.” She emphasized how it takes a lot of time to put a short piece together in television between shooting and travel time.

Her Sochi experience was a great one, but she’s happy to get back to the court.

 

Petra Kvitova

Petra Kvitova

When asked about whether she feels that most of the time her matches are on her racquet, she responded, When I’m playing, I’m feeling it’s about me and I’m playing aggressive myself, that’s most(ly) about me.” Not all of the time is a happy end.” Kvitova admits that she’s OK with her game but she has some  more expectations of herself.

Playing aggressively comes natural to the 2011 Wimbledon champion.

 

Halep

Simona Halep is a first-timer at the WTA All-Access

Simona Halep’s ranking has been on the rise for the past few years. Last year only No. 1 Serena Williams claimed more titles than the Romanian during the year.

To what does Halep attribute that success to? “I was more aggressive starting  with last year in Rome, becasue I played really well there. Before I had (a) back injury and it was very hard and I couldn’t play at my level but after that I did really well.”

” I am very happy to be top ten . It’s amazing. Now I can see that I can play the highest level in tennis so I want to continue to be focused.”

She admits that she enjoys the perks of being in the top ten. “I have the bigger car,” she said. As a top ten player it entitles her to a bigger car at tournaments. She enjoys driving and one of the reasons she loves this tournament is that she can drive.

She recently purchased a Range Rover back home in Romania.

Halep’s biggest triumph came in Doha last month, where she beat three top ten players for the title. ” After Australia I thought I could be at highest level of tennis, now I am really happy that I can play in top ten.”

 

Jelena Jankovic

Jelena Jankovic models new French Open Fila dress

Jelena Jankovic walked into her roundtable session modeling her new Fila outfit for the French Open accompanied by the designer Ginny Hilfiger.

Jankovic reacted to her former coach Nick Bollettieri being named for induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. “Nick is an amazing person,” Jankovic said. “He’s the one who helped me quite a  lot, you know when it comes to my game brought me a lot at young age.”

“He helped me to believe in myself,” said the former No. 1.

 

 

azarenka-cincy-slider-1

Victoria Azarenka is coming back from a foot injury

By viewing her practices on Monday, one could tell that No. 4 Victoria Azarenka was in some type of pain. She told media that her foot injury had her in a walking boot for three weeks last month. She confessed that she’s only been able to practice for less than a week.

“When you hear for the first time from the doctor that you have to wear a boot for three weeks and the tournament is four-and-a-half weeks away you’re like ‘OK, let’s see how it goes,’” she said. “I just wanted to stay positive and do the best job as possible.”

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