2014/08/22

Serena Williams Leads U.S. Open Women’s Field

2012 US Open

 

U.S. Tennis Association -White Plains, N.Y., July 16, 2014 – The USTA  announced that world No. 1 and two-time defending champion Serena Williams leads the women’s field for the 2014 US Open Tennis Championships. Williams is joined by 103 of the world’s top 105 women, including reigning French Open and former US Open champion Maria Sharapova, Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, two-time US Open champion Venus Williams and former US Open champions Samantha Stosur and Svetlana Kuznetsova.

In total, 36 different countries are represented in the women’s field. Eleven U.S. women received entry into the main draw – the most of any country – with nine Americans ranked in the Top 50.

The 2014 US Open will be played August 25 through September 8 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y. The US Open Women’s Singles Championship is presented by JPMorgan Chase.

Leading the entry list is world No. 1 Serena Williams, who won her fifth US Open crown in 2013, trying her with Steffi Graf for the second-most US Open women’s singles title in the Open Era, trailing only Chris Evert, with six. Williams has won 17 Grand Slam singles titles overall, which ranks sixth all-time, just one behind Evert and Martina Navratilova (18).

Joining Williams in the field’s top four are world No. 2 Li Na, of China, Asia’s first and only Grand Slam champion, who won her second major singles title at the 2014 Australian Open; No. 3 Simona Halep, of Romania, a 2014 French Open finalist and Wimbledon semifinalist, and No. 4 Kvitova, of the Czech Republic, who won her second Grand Slam and Wimbledon singles title earlier this month.

Following the top four are No. 5 Agnieszka Radwanska, of Poland, the first Polish player to reach a Grand Slam singles final (2012 Wimbledon); No. 6 Sharapova, of Russia, the 2006 US Open champion who won her fifth Grand Slam singles title this year at the French Open; No. 7 Eugenie Bouchard, of Canada, who reached her first Grand Slam singles final this summer at Wimbledon and also advanced to the semifinals of the French Open and Australian Open this year; No. 8 Angelique Kerber, of Germany, a two-time US Open semifinalist (2011-12); No. 9 Jelena Jankovic, of Serbia, a former world No. 1 and US Open finalist (2008), and No. 10 Victoria Azarenka, of Belarus, a former world No. 1 and two-time Australian Open champion (2012-13) who has been the US Open runner-up to Williams each of the last two years.

Ten players who have won Grand Slam singles titles in their careers are competing in the US Open this year, including former world No. 1 and 2008 French Open champion Ana Ivanovic, of Serbia, and 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone, of Italy.

France’s Virginie Razzano, ranked No. 105, is the last player accepted directly into the women’s field of 128. Two players have withdrawn due to injury, No. 82 Alisa Kleybanova, of Russia, and No. 90 Victoria Duval, of the United States, who is undergoing treatment after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. One player is using a special ranking to gain entry into the main draw – No. 40 Romina Oprandi, of Switzerland. Sixteen more players will gain entry through the US Open Qualifying Tournament, August 19-22, while the remaining eight spots are wild cards awarded by the USTA.

In addition to Serena Williams, the other American women who received direct entry into this year’s tournament include No. 22 Sloane Stephens, of Coral Springs, Fla., No. 25 Venus Williams, of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., No. 27 Madison Keys, of Rock Island, Ill., No. 41 Coco Vandeweghe, of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., No. 43 Alison Riske, of Pittsburgh, No. 44 Lauren Davis, of Gates Mills, Ohio, No. 49 Varvara Lepchenko, of Allentown, Pa., No. 51 Christina McHale, of Teaneck, N.J., No. 76 Vania King, of Monterey Park, Calif., and No. 104 Shelby Rogers, of Charleston, S.C.

Several of the young Americans listed above have had breakout performances on the WTA tour this year. Keys, 19, and Vandeweghe, 22, each won their first WTA singles titles on the same weekend this June, the first time in 12 years two American women won WTA titles in the same week. Rogers, 21, and McHale, 22, both made their first WTA final appearances, while Davis, 20, advanced to the third round of both Wimbledon and the Australian Open this year.

Among the players competing in the US Open Qualifying Tournament will be the winner of the fifth annual US Open National Playoffs – Women’s Championship, held during the Emirates Airline US Open Series event in New Haven, Conn., prior to the US Open Qualifying Tournament. The USTA created the US Open National Playoffs in 2010 to allow players 14 and older, regardless of playing ability or nationality, to vie for a spot in the US Open Qualifying Tournament via one of 13 sectional qualifying tournaments.

The July 14 edition of the WTA rankings was used to determine the US Open main draw entry list. Seeds will be determined and announced closer to the start of the event.

The 2014 US Open will mark the culmination of the Emirates Airline US Open Series, the North American summer season of eight ATP World Tour and WTA events that begin this Monday, July 21. The US Open is the highest-attended annual spring event in the world and will again be broadcast domestically on CBS Sports, ESPN and Tennis Channel, with international broadcasts reaching 180 countries.

The 2014 US Open will be played form Monday, August 25 through Monday, September 8. Tickets can be purchased: at USOpen.org; by calling Ticketmaster at 1-866-OPEN-TIX; at all Ticketmaster outlets; at the box office at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Share

Second Seed Li Na Knocked Out of Wimbledon

 

 

(June 27, 2014) WIMBLEDON – Current Australian Open champion and No. 2 player, China’s Li Na is has been knocked out of Wimbledon falling 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5) to Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic in a third round match Friday on Court 1.

Li actually held a set point in the second set which she could not capitalize on.

Statistics which tell the story of the match: Li Na was 2 for 7 on break point chances with 37 unforced errors, with seven double-faults. Both women won 93 points in the match.

Li Na said that she should have prepared better for grass.

“I make a decision.  I say, Oh, maybe I should change a little bit.  I come here pretty early to try to play on the grass court,” Li said.

“I need to play some matches before the big one.”

“I believed in myself coming into this match,” Zahlavova Strycova said  “I thought I can do it. That’s what happened.”

This will be the first time the Czech has reached the second week of a major. She’ll play Caroline Wozniacki next.

Share

Li Na, Agniezska Radwanska and Venus Williams Reach Wimbledon Third Round

 

(June 25, 2014) WIMBLEDON – No. 2 Li Na, No. 4 Agniezska Radwanska and five-time champion Venus Williams are into the third round of Wimbledon, all women posting straight set victories on Wednesday.

Li Na took to Court No. 2 to defeat Yvonne Meusburger of Austria 6-2, 6-2.

“Can be better.  Can be bad.  You never know,” Li said about her play.

“But I was really happy the way I was hit the ball right now on the court.

Despite being placed on an outer court as the second seed, Li Na enjoys playing earlier in the day.

“I like to be the first match,” she said.  “Yesterday they showed the Centre Court and Court 1, the schedule on the TV.  I say, Go call the schedule.  Maybe I was play first, at 11:30.

“I love to be the first match.  You don’t have to wait.  If they put you in like fourth or last match, you have to wait for the match.  Whole day you couldn’t do anything.

The Chinese woman led off with two breaks of serve early in the first set and followed suit in the second for a convincing win.

Li Na hit 33 winners with 4 aces.

Li Na will play Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in the third round.

“I think the last time we meet was like in the clay court,” Li explained.  “I know she was pretty smart player.  Pretty flat.  I think it’s good for her to play on the grass court.

“For me, I think I just play my game, play more aggressive, as much as I can come to the net, follow the plan.”

Radwanska defeated Australia’s Casey Dellacqua 6-4, 6-0 on Centre Court. The woman from Poland ran up a 5-1 lead, but the Aussie won the next three games to get back on serve, then dropped her next service game at love to give the set to Radwanska.

The Polish woman was very happy to be on Centre Court, the site of her only major final. “It’s always great to be out there, especially here what I really have the best memories on the Grand Slam.

“So of course I was really looking forward to being in the Centre Court again.”

No. 30 seed Venus Williams got off to a bit of a slow start against Japan’s Kurumi Nara but won in straight sets 7-6 (4), 6-1 on Court No. 3 to earn a spot in the third round of a major for only the second time in her last 10 major tournaments.

“I think at the important points in the game I was able to lift my game a little, Williams explained.  “That’s what you really want to do.  Then also in the second set lift my game.

“I thought she played well.”

“I know that no one’s going to give me a match,” she added.  “You don’t get given a match, especially at the majors.  I knew all points I would have to work for.”

“It’s very special for me because I saw the Venus like when I was a child, Nara said.

“So it’s very happy to play with her.

The American hit 7 aces and smacked 43 winners past her opponent.

“Definitely for me it’s definitely a step in the right direction,” Williams said about making the third round.  “The thing that I just have to really work on is being on tour consistently and playing tournaments.

“Even leading up these last few months, I don’t feel I played as many matches as I would have liked, as many as my opponents.  The more you play, the more you get used to being down or up or serving things out.

“My whole goal is just to keep playing and stay as healthy as I can.”

 

 

Karen Pestaina at Wimbledon

Share

Li Na and Victoria Azarenka Through to the Second Round at Wimbledon

 

 

(June 23, 2014) WIMBLEDON – No. 8 Victoria Azarenka is back on track, while No. 2 Li Na was tested in the first set as both women advanced to the second round of Wimbledon on Monday.

After five months without a win due to a foot injury which kept her off the tour, Azarenka beat Miriana Lucic Baroni 6-3, 7-5 to make the second round of Wimbledon.

“Well, I’m just very happy to be able to play,” Azarenka said.  “This is what I love to do.  The best feeling is to play pain-free.  That’s what’s important for me.

“I think, you know, getting the game together and the timing, it’s all a long process.  But the important is that I’m there, you know, 100%.  My focus is there.  My desire and concentration is there.  So that’s what all I can ask for in myself

The Belarusian spoke about her recovery, “the toughest part about the time off and my rehab in particular was that I didn’t know when I was going to be able to go on the court because it was mostly a day-to-day progress and how it was going to feel.

“Some days it was getting much better.  Some days were a little bit setback.  That was the most difficult part.

“Once I start moving, I start feeling well, once I got on the court, you know, I didn’t really feel like, Oh, I’m missing about a hundred balls, but it didn’t matter, it was just important to actually hit the ball.”

Li Na photo courtesy of MiamiTennisNews.com

Li Na photo courtesy of MiamiTennisNews.com

Li Na had a 7-5, 6-2 win over Paula Kania of Poland. Na rallied to win the last four games to close the first set.

The Chinese woman said she knew nothing about her opponent coming into the match.

“Zero,” Li Na said.  “I will try to find something on the Internet, but I cannot.

“Two or three days ago I was practice with another player, and her coach say, I think she has good forehand.  I start to play her backhand today, and she didn’t miss one shot.

“So I think I need to talk to the guy later.”

 

Karen Pestaina at Wimbledon

Share

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.”

 

Share

Sara Errani Stuns Li Na to Reach Rome Semis

Errani photo by Christopher Levy @tennis_shots

Errani photo by Christopher Levy @tennis_shots

(May 15, 2014) Italy’s Sara Errani conquered Rome on Friday when she upset No. 2 Li Na Na 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 to reach her second straight Italian Open semifinal, much to the delight of a supportive crowd. Coming into the match Errani was 0-6 versus Li.

The No. 10 seed is trying to become the first Italian woman since Raffaella Reggi in 1984 to win Rome.

Li committed 52 unforced errors to Errani’s 21. In her post-match news conference, Li said that she threw up before the match. She told press that her illness could have been caused by pasta or allergies.

Errani will face either Jelena Jankovic or third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska in the semifinals.

Share

Li Na on the Cover of Time Magazine

Li Na Time

(May 15, 2014) World No. 2 Li Na is featured on the cover of the May 26 issue of TIME magazine. She was also on the cover the magazine for the 2013 TIME 100 issue, the list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

The article on the Chinese player is entitled ‘The Passion Of Li Na.” To read the article click here.

“I am really honored to be featured on the cover of TIME magazine yet again,” Li told the WTA.

“As one of the most widely read publications in the world, I am very grateful to be in the position to make an impact on the multitude of people, especially women, and to show them that if you truly believe in yourself and in your talent, and are willing to work hard, your dreams can become reality.

“‘Dare to make a breakthrough and dare to challenge all’ is my call for our young generation because self-transcendence is the true meaning of success.”

Share

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.

Share

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.

Share

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.

Share