2015/05/28

Kerber Takes Home Family Circle Cup

Angelique Kerber

(April 12, 2015) Angelique Kerber rallied from 1-4 down in the third set, winning six of the last seven games to defeat Madison Keys and win the Family Circle Cup in Charleston 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 on Sunday.

For the German Kerber, this was her fourth career WTA title, her first since capturing Linz in 2013.

“It’s unbelievable,” Kerber said. “To win here after the really difficult weeks I had, I’m feeling great. Last year I had four finals and I didn’t win any of them, so it’s great that I actually won this one today. It’s just been a great week for me here. Everybody is so nice, and I’m really happy about my game.”

“Coming off tough losses at Indian Wells and Miami, I’m happy I kept a great attitude this week, and I was just fighting as hard as I could today,” said the 20-year-old American Keys. “I could have gone either way after the first set, but I dug deep and still put myself in a position to win. But she just wasn’t making any mistakes at the end.”

The win for Kerber was a bit of revenge – last June Keys defeated Kerber in three-sets in the final of Eastbourne for her first WTA title.

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Rain Washes Out Some Matches in Miami – Halep, Azarenka and Stephens Advance

Simona Halep

Simona Halep

(March 27, 2015) Rain saw the cancellation of some late afternoon matches and the evening session at the Miami Open on Friday including Serena Williams’ opening match. Saturday’s new schedule will be announced.

Miami Open – Official Statement from Tournament Director Office Regarding Tickets

Third seed Simona Halep who took home the BNP Paribas Open title, just last Sunday, won 6-4, 2-6, 6-1 against wild card Nicole Vaidisova. Vaidisova a former two-time Grand Slam semifinalist and once No. 7 in the world, is back on the tour since retiring and coming back from multiple shoulder surgeries.

 

Sloane Stephens

Sloane Stephens

In the all-American battle on Stadium court in the late afternoon, No. 45 Soane Stephens defeated No. 17 Madison Keys 6-4, 6-2.

In the first meeting between both women, Stephens broke Keys’ serve five times during the match. Keys had 36 unforced errors during the match to only 14 winners.

“One of those days where didn’t quite have the feeling; couldn’t really find it,” Keys said.

 

“Sloane played really well. I thought in the first set I kind of had a chance to come back and maybe get into the match a little bit more, but a couple of bad points here and there and it kind of just got away from me.”

 

“It was windy,” Stephens said. “The conditions weren’t that great.

 

“Because I know going out there I had to play my game and stay focused and really focus on myself. I tried to do that the best I could. Obviously the conditions were tough, so I was just happy to get out with the win.”

 

“It’s always really good to see Sloane playing well,” Keys commented on her past Fed Cup teammate. “I thought ‑ I knew ‑ it was going to be a tough match.

 

“You know, she just played better than me today. You know, wishing her all the best and hoping she goes deep now.”

 

“I just go out and play my game and stay focused,” Stephens said. “Obviously she’s a great player. I knew I had to go out there and execute.

 

“That’s what I did out there with the tough conditions. I was pleased with myself.”

 

“I know Maddy is going to have a great career,” Stephens said.

 

“I am going to see her for like the next 10 years of my life consistently. I’m looking forward to seeing her get better and keep playing and doing what she’s doing now.”

 

 

Stephens will match up against Sweden’s Larsson, Johanna, who defeated 10th seed Lucie Safarova.

 

Victoria Azarekna

Victoria Azarekna

Former Miami champion Victoria Azarenka is into the third round of Miami by beating world No. 20 Jelena Jankovic 6-1, 6-1.

The former No. 1 Jankovic was 0-13 on break point chances.

“I just really tried to stay focused and tried to find a way to stay in the game,” Azarenka said. I had to save a couple of break points right away, and then there was, you know, this battle.

 

“I know that Jelena is a fighter. Doesn’t matter what score it is, she will not give up. Some of those rallies she just went for it, and I felt like I wasn’t that aggressive on some points.

 

“So I just had to stay focused and stay tough and try to find a way to finish the match. You know, in those moments that’s what I really look for right now, to be able to step up my game when it’s needed.”

 

Azarenka, a former No 1 who has been plagued with injuries over the last two years, is currently ranked No. 36 in the world and trying to regain her form.

 

More to follow

 

Related article:
“This one I think I played a lot smarter” – Cici Bellis Defeats Zarina Diyas in Miami for some U. S. Open Revenge
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BNP Paribas Open – John McEnroe Challenge for Charity Features Andy Roddick, Tracy Austin, Lindsay Davenport, James Blake and Madison Keys

(February 9, 2015) Indian Wells, Calif.– The McEnroe Challenge for Charity presented by Masimo, a one-day, free admission special event on Saturday, March 7 ahead of the BNP Paribas Open, the largest ATP World Tour and WTA combined two-week event in the world, will feature John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Tracy Austin, Lindsay Davenport, James Blake, Rick Leach, Coco Vandeweghe and Madison Keys, it was announced today by Steve Simon, tournament director.

This year’s event will be played in a team format, with McEnroe and Roddick each captaining a team. The teams will be determined on the evening of Friday, March 6 at the Charity Reception. Each match (men’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles, mixed doubles) will consist of one set, with each game won counting as one point towards the team’s cumulative score. No ad-scoring, receiver’s choice (gender to gender in mixed doubles), and a 12-point tiebreak (six-games-all) will be used throughout the event.

In addition, the “coach” may substitute a player, male or female, into any match at any time. There will be no limit on the number of substitutions that can be made. If the Team Match is tied at the end of the four matches, a super tiebreaker (10 point) will be played to determine a winner. Each player on the team will be required to play at least two points within the super tiebreaker.

Each player and doubles team will represent a designated local charity, and 100 percent of the prize money ($80,000) earned – $15,000 for the winner and $5,000 for the loser of each match – will be donated to the charity the player or team represents. The designated charities will be the Andy Roddick Foundation, Eisenhower Medical Center, Patient Safety Movement Foundation, and the War Casualty Fund.

Masimo, now a Premier sponsor of the BNP Paribas Open, is the new presenting sponsor for the McEnroe Challenge for Charity. A global medical technology company that has developed innovative medical devices including the recently introduced MightySat™ fingertip pulse oximeter for sports and consumer use, Masimo will have a booth/exhibit space on the grounds to showcase the company during the BNP Paribas Open.

“Masimo is excited to be the presenting sponsor for the McEnroe Challenge for Charity, as this event provides an ideal way to raise money for charity and kick off the BNP Paribas Open,” said Joe Kiani, founder and CEO of Masimo and founder of the Patient Safety Movement Foundation. “We look forward to supporting a special free evening for fans, watching some of the best tennis players in the history of the game compete, and most importantly raising money for terrific causes.”

On Saturday, March 7th, the gates will open at 5:00 p.m. and matches will begin at 6:00 p.m. To reserve a complimentary ticket to the McEnroe Challenge for Charity presented by Masimo (limit of four (4) per customer), please visit www.bnpparibasopen.com, call 800-999-1585 or come to the Indian Wells Tennis Garden Box Office at 78-200 Miles Avenue, Indian Wells, Calif., 92210.

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Vandeweghe and Townsend to Replace Keys and Lepchenko On US Fed Cup Team

Taylor Townsend

Taylor Townsend

Coco Vandeweghe

Coco Vandeweghe

From the USTA: (February 4, 2015) Coco Vandeweghe and Taylor Townsend will replace Madison Keys and Varvara Lepchenko on the U.S. Fed Cup Team roster for the World Group II First Round in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Keys suffered a leg injury in the Australian Open en route to her first career Grand Slam semifinal, while Lepchenko suffered an illness after competing in Australia and is still recovering.

 

Vandeweghe, 23, is ranked a career-high No. 32 in the world after a strong start to the year, where she reached the third round of the Australian Open and the quarterfinals of the WTA event in Auckland, New Zealand. Vandeweghe made her only appearance on the U.S. Fed Cup Team in the 2010 World Group Final against Italy in San Diego. Townsend, 18, is ranked No. 96 in the world and is making her Fed Cup debut. Vandeweghe and Townsend join Serena Williams and Venus Williams, who were named to the U.S. team last week by U.S. Fed Cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez.

 

The United States will face Argentina on an outdoor red clay court at the Pilara Tennis Club in Buenos Aires, February 7-8. The winner of this tie advances to the World Group Playoff, held April 18-19, to compete for a spot in the 2016 World Group. This will mark the fifth matchup between the U.S. and Argentina in Fed Cup competition, where the United States holds a 3-1 record over Argentina.

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Serena Williams Win Sets Up Australian Open Final Against Maria Sharapova

(January 29, 2015) For the first time since 2004, the Australian Open women’s final will feature No. 1 versus No. 2. Top seed and five-time Australian Open winner Serena Williams will take on 2008 champion Maria Sharapova for the title on Saturday.

Both women won straight set matches on Thursday to advance. Williams won a slugfest of big serves and hard groundstrokes against 19-year-old Madison Keys in a battle between Americans 7-6 (5), 6-2. Williams was pushed by Keys at the very end, needing nine match points to close the contest. Sharapova had a much easier time against Russian countrywoman No. 10 Ekaterina Makarova 6-3, 6-2.

For the 33-year-old Williams, she is seeking her sixth Australian Open title and 19th major. She last won the Australian Open in 2010. Sharapova will be trying to claim her second Melbourne title and sixth Grand Slam title.

“She (Keys) pushed me really hard the first set ……. and I had to really dig deep mentally to get through that,” said a coughing Williams who has been ill for several days. “It was a little frustrating, I had like nine or 10 match points and couldn’t close it out. That doesn’t happen so much. She played like she didn’t have anything to lose.”

“I think she’s going to be winning this tournament very soon and lots of other Grand Slams,” said Williams to ESPN.

A total of 25 aces were hit during the match – 13 for Williams, 12 for Keys. Williams hit 19 winners to 16 unforced errors to Keys 27 winners to 39 unforced errors.

“I was impressed by her ability to stay in the match,” Said Williams. She never let up at all till the end. I think that is a really great quality to have.

“Well, I was just happy to get through it today. And I think I was able to serve big when I needed to. So that really helped me out a lot.”

“I’m really happy to have gotten this far in a tournament,” Keys said. “It’s my first one. Just looking forward to having more. Hopefully have a couple where I’m with the trophy at the end of the week.”

“I think I handled the moment pretty well. I definitely had a good start, so nerves didn’t totally play into that. I thought I handled myself pretty well in that last serving game of mine. But, I mean, she played really well. She served really well. It was pretty much impossible for me to break her serve. So, you know, great job to her today.”

“I think this week has definitely more shown to me, more than anyone else, that I can play the top players and I can do well against them. I can play the No. 1 player in the world in a pretty close match. So I think for me that’s inspiration for every time I’m on a practice court to keep working, keep getting better so I can have more and more weeks like that.”

 

Sharapova was pleased with her decisive win on Thursday. “I’m definitely happy. Like today, I thought I played solid. I did everything I had to do. I wasn’t afraid for it to become a physical match. You know, I think it was important to really stand my ground in the first few games, which I did well, even though I was behind, especially the first and second one. But, yeah, those key moments are really important. Yeah, definitely happy I was able to win really solid today.”

The No. 2 player’s road to the final had one major bump – she saved two match points in the second round of the tournament coming back to beat No. 150 Russian qualifier Alexandra Panova.

“It’s been a strange road for me to get to the finals, but I’m happy,” said Sharapova. “Came from behind in a few, really behind in one – saving match points. I felt like I was given a second chance. I just wanted to take my chances.”

Williams is 16-2 against Sharapova, with her last loss to the Russian coming in 2004. Williams has won the last 15 straight matches against Sharapova. Regardless who wins the final, Williams will remain in the top spot after the tournament.

“Everyone’s expecting me to win, “Williams said to ESPN. But I have to win. I’m glad No. 1 and No. 2 are in the final and I think it will be a good match.”

“Maria is playing great,” Williams said in her post-match news conference. “She’s in the tournament only because she’s a fighter and only because she refuses to give up. So, yeah, it’s a new match. She has nothing to lose, once again. She has only things to gain. And I feel that way, too. I feel I don’t. I’ve won this tournament several times. I don’t have to go out there and have another title. I want it, but it’s not life or death for me. I think that helps me he relax. So, yeah, she absolutely has nothing to lose, and I have nothing to lose, so it will be fun.”

Asked about what about Williams’ game give her trouble, Sharapova responded: “I think her power and her aggressiveness, I think that’s always made me a little bit too aggressive, maybe going for a little bit more than I had to. You know, she’s great at making players hit that shot that you don’t necessarily have to go for. You know, maybe going for a little too much, going on the line. It’s been a really difficult matchup for me, but, you know, I am a competitor. If I do play her, I will go out and I will do everything I can to try to change that result around.”

“I think my confidence should be pretty high going into a final of a Grand Slam no matter who I’m facing against and whether I’ve had a terrible record, to say the least, against someone” said the 27-year-old. “It doesn’t matter. I got there for a reason. I belong in that spot. I will do everything I can to get the title.”

“I’ve had many great memories on Rod Laver Arena. I’ve hopefully set myself up for another good one.”

“I think it’s great for women’s tennis,” Williams remarked about No. 1 versus No. 2. “I think it’s good for me and Maria. I’m excited. Like I said, I love playing her. I look forward to it. I didn’t expect to get to the finals of this tournament when I first got here because I wasn’t playing great. So I’m happy to be here. Yeah, I’m just happy, like I said, to get past the quarterfinals of a slam. Fourth round actually, outside the Open.”

No. 6 Andy Murray advanced to his fourth Australian Open final defeating No. 7 Tomas Berdych 6-7 (6), 6-0, 6-3, 7-5.

On the court there was obvious tension during this night match due to one of Andy Murray’s coaching team switching over to Berdych’s in the off-season.

There were profanities being yelled between the players on the court and during the first set of the match it appeared that Murray’s fiance Kim Sears was caught on camera cursing at Berdych.

“Obviously losing in the finals is disappointing. But making four finals is a very, very difficult thing to do,”Murray said. “And, yeah, I’m proud of my record here. I’ll go in with best tactics possible, prepare well – I literally couldn’t have done anything more to put myself in a better position come Sunday.”

Murray, who has been coached by former No. 1 player Amelie Mauresmo since June, had come under scrutiny for his choice of a female coach.  After the match on Thursday night he paid tribute to female coaches: “A lot of people criticized me working with her,” said Murray. “And I think so far this week we’ve showed that women can be very good coaches as well.”

“Madison Keys, who reached the semis here and had her best tournament, is also coached by a woman, Lindsay Davenport, and I see no reason why that can’t keep moving forward like that in the future.”

Murray will play the winner of the Novak Djokovic –  Stan Wawrinka match in Sunday’s final.

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Serena and Venus Williams to lead US Fed Cup Team Against Argentina

USAFEDCUP

From the USTA: WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., January 28, 2015 — The USTA and United States Fed Cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez today announced that world No. 1 and 18-time Grand Slam singles champion Serena Williams, former world No. 1 and world No. 18 Venus Williams, No. 30 Varvara Lepchenko and No. 35 and 2015 Australian Open semifinalist Madison Keys will represent the U.S. in the 2015 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group II First Round against Argentina. The best-of-five match series will be played at the Pilara Tennis Club in Buenos Aires, Feb. 7-8. Former world junior No. 1 Taylor Townsend will also be joining the team in Argentina as a fifth member of the team and practice partner.

 

The winner of this match advances to the World Group Playoff, held April 18-19, to compete for a spot in the 2016 World Group. The losing nation will play in the World Group II Playoff in April to remain in World Group II in 2016. The U.S. will compete in World Group II in 2015 for just the second time since the World Group format was instituted in 1995. (The U.S. also competed in the World Group II in 2012; it has competed in the World Group all other years.)

 

Argentina Fed Cup Captain Maria-Jose Gaidano named world No. 124 Paula Ormaechea, No. 198 Maria Irigoyen, No. 394 Nadia Podoroska and No. 551 Tatiana Bua to the Argentina team.

 

“We have an incredible amount of talent on this Fed Cup team, with three Australian Open quarterfinalists and four Top 40 players,” said Fernandez. “We are thrilled to be led by Serena, one of the greatest players of all time, as well as Venus, who is playing at the top of her game. I am so proud of Madison and her results in Australia and happy to have her on the team, as well as Varvara, who performs well in Fed Cup and has had a strong start to the year. I have full confidence in this team to play some great tennis in Argentina and help us get one step closer to earning our way back into the World Group next year.”

 

Matches begin on Saturday, Feb. 7, with two singles matches featuring each country’s No. 1 player against the other country’s No. 2 player. Sunday’s schedule features two “reverse singles” matches, when the No. 1 players square off, then the No. 2 players meet, followed by a doubles match. Play on Saturday and Sunday begins at 11 a.m. local time (9 a.m. ET). Tennis Channel will present daily coverage.

 

The United States holds a 3-1 record over Argentina in Fed Cup. The U.S. last faced Argentina in the 2009 World Group Quarterfinal in Surprise, Ariz., where the U.S. won, 3-2, in a fifth-and-decisive doubles rubber won by Julie Ditty and Liezel Huber. The U.S.’s only loss to Argentina came in 1993 in the World Group Quarterfinal in Germany. The two nations also faced each other in 1985 (in Japan) and in 1964 (in Philadelphia). The U.S. has never played Fed Cup in the country of Argentina; all other matches were either at home or on neutral ground. The U.S. is 8-11 in away ties since the World Group format was in instituted in 1995 and holds an overall 143-35 record.

 

World No. 1 Serena Williams, 33, holds a 10-0 singles record and 3-0 doubles record in Fed Cup competition, last playing in the 2013 Fed Cup World Group Playoff against Sweden in Delray Beach, Fla., to propel the U.S. back into the World Group last year. She also helped the U.S. capture the 1999 Fed Cup title. Williams won her 18th Grand Slam title at the 2014 US Open and captured the Olympic gold medal in singles and women’s doubles, with sister Venus, at the 2012 Games in London. With the Olympic singles win, Williams joined Steffi Graf as the only women to complete the Golden Slam—the Olympics and the four Grand Slam events—and she is the only person to accomplish the feat in both singles and doubles. Williams regained the No. 1 ranking in the world on Feb. 18, 2013, becoming the oldest woman (at age 31) to hold the top spot since the WTA computer rankings were introduced in November 1975. This was Williams’ sixth stint at No. 1 and took place nearly 11 years after she first became the No. 1-ranked tennis player in the world. Williams has won 64 WTA singles titles and has also been ranked No. 1 in doubles in her career. (She holds 21 doubles titles with sister Venus, including 13 Grand Slam women’s doubles titles.) Williams is currently in the semifinals of the Australian Open and will face Madison Keys on Thursday.

 

World No. 18 Venus Williams, 34, reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinal since 2010 at this year’s Australian Open. She re-entered the Top 20 in 2013 for the first time since revealing that she had been diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome, an autoimmune disorder, following the 2011 US Open. Venus holds a 19-4 overall record in Fed Cup competition (15-2 in singles), last playing in the 2013 Fed Cup World Group Playoff against Sweden in Delray Beach. She was also a member of the title-winning team in 1999. Venus is a seven-time Grand Slam singles champion and has won 46 WTA singles titles. She has been ranked No. 1 in both singles and doubles. In Olympic play, she has won three gold medals in doubles (with Serena) in 2000, 2008 and 2012, and she captured the singles gold medal in 2000. Venus reached the quarterfinals of the 2015 Australian Open—her first Grand Slam quarterfinal since 2010.

 

Lepchenko, 28, is currently ranked No. 30 in the world. She made her Fed Cup debut in the 2013 World Group First Round in Rimini, Italy, where she posted singles victories over then-world No. 8 Sara Errani and then-world No. 16 Roberta Vinci. Lepchenko was also named to the U.S. Fed Cup team for the 2013 World Group Playoff against Sweden in Delray Beach. She peaked at a career-high No. 19 in October 2012 and reached the fourth round of the 2012 French Open—her best result at a Grand Slam event—which qualified her for the U.S. Olympic team. In 2014, she reached her first WTA final in Seoul, upsetting top seed Agnieszka Radwanska. This year, Lepchenko reached the semifinals of the Australian Open tune-up event in Brisbane and the third round of the Australian Open. A native of Uzbekistan, Lepchenko has been living in the U.S. since 2001 after receiving political asylum, and she officially changed her nationality in 2007 to play for the U.S. She became an official U.S. citizen in Sept. 2011.

 

World No. 35 Keys, 19, is named to her third consecutive Fed Cup team after making her debut for the U.S. Fed Cup team last year, competing in the World Group First Round in Cleveland against Italy. (She also played in the World Group Playoff in St. Louis against France.) So far in her career, Keys has gone 1-2 in singles and 1-1 in doubles in Fed Cup. Keys advanced to her first career Grand Slam semifinal at this year’s Australian Open, where she upset No. 4 seed Petra Kvitova and No. 18 seed Venus Williams. Keys peaked at No. 27 in the world last July after winning her first WTA title at the grass-court event in Eastbourne, Great Britain. Also in 2014, she reached the semifinals of the WTA Australian Open tune-up event in Sydney and the French Open tune-up event in Strasbourg. In 2011, shebecame the youngest player to win a main draw match at the US Open since Nicole Vaidisova in 2005. And in 2009, she became the youngest player (14 years, 48 days) since Martina Hingis in 1994 to win a WTA match. Keys is coached by former world No. 1 Lindsay Davenport and her husband, Jon Leach.

 

The United States leads all nations with 17 Fed Cup titles, the last coming in 2000. Fed Cup by BNP Paribas is the World Cup of Tennis. It is the largest annual international team competition in women’s sport, with 99 nations taking part in 2015. For

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Serena Williams to face Madison Keys in Australian Open Semifinal

Madison Keys

Madison Keys

(January 28, 2015) No. 1 Serena Williams and No. 35 Madison Keys booked spots in Australian Open semifinals on Wednesday. Keys broke up what could have been an “all-Williams” semifinal when the 19-year-old knocked out 34-year-old Venus Williams 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 to reach her first Grand Slam final four.

Serena Williams had a much easier time advancing, dismissing last year’s Australian Open losing finalist Dominika Cibulkova 6-2, 6-2 in 69 minutes, is still on track to try and win her 19th major and sixth Australian Open title.

Statistics tell the story for the world No. 1 American who hit 58 winners including 15 aces and made only 18 unforced errors against the Slovak. Williams has won the title at Melbourne Park each of the five previous times she has advanced to the semifinals.

“I feel I played well,” said Serena. “I felt I had to. I feel like when you’re going up against a player like that who is confident on the court – she just had a few good matches – I knew that I needed to really play well or go home.”

“It was tough match for me today,” No. 11 Cibulkova said. “She was just playing really well today, I have to say. She was putting so much pressure from the serve and return. I didn’t have a chance to play my game. Just felt under so much pressure. It was a good day for her.

“It’s the way I struggle with reading her serves. I just don’t put many first returns in the game. That’s what makes it tough. And also then I feel under a bigger pressure on my serve. That’s why I try to go for much more first serve today. It just didn’t go in. Then my second serve, she was just going for it. Yeah, that’s make it really tough. She tries to make the rallies much shorter and not to get me in the rhythm. Yeah, that’s it.”

In a battle between tennis generations, Venus Williams and Keys, it was the first All-American quarterfinal since Sloane Stephens beat Serena Williams in Melbourne Park back in 2013.

After a dominant first set by Keys, who is now coached by former No. 1 and three-time slam winner Lindsay Davenport, she had to overcome a left leg injury and rally from a break down in the third set to win the match. Keys completed the match with 34 winners to 45 unforced errors, while Venus hit 10 winners to 38 unforced errors. The match saw 12 service breaks.

“I definitely didn’t serve as consistently as I wanted to,” said the seven-time major champion. “I felt like just not as aggressive off the ground as I would have liked. So I think in this kind of match you have to be aggressive. Like I said, I give a lot of credit to her because she really set her points up. She was swinging freely. Most of them went in for her. So it was just, you know, great for her.”

“It already feels like a long season already, so many matches in a row,” Williams said. “But it’s a great start. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep this level up.”

Venus is 9-1 on the year, having won the tournament in Auckland.

“I think she played really well,” Venus said “Of course, I have to give credit to her just for playing well, landing a lot of great shots I think is ultimately — ultimately she played really well.

Venus hadn’t reached the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam since the U.S. Open in 2010 since being diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome in 2011, an auto-immune disease which causes fatigue.

“I think just being able to come back from being down and from not being able to move as well, not having as effective of a serve, just being able to kind of grind through that, still figure it out, manage to win some points, is what I’m most happy about,” Keys said about her left abductor injury.

“It was definitely one of those things where it wasn’t nearly as bad as Wimbledon, but it was that nightmare of `I don’t want this to happen again,’” Keys said. “Luckily the pain meds kicked in.”

“I mean, it definitely feels amazing,” said the teenager about the victory. “It’s one of those things where you want to feel this way all the time. But it’s not, you know, this unbelievable excitement either ’cause you want to keep winning and you want to keep doing better. I am very happy and I am very excited, but also not getting too far ahead of myself and being too content where I am.”

This is the third straight year that a teenager has reached the Australian Open semifinals: 2013 – Sloane Stephens, 2014 – Eugenie Bouchard and 2015 – Keys.

“I think Genie and Sloane are both really talented and can play some really good tennis,” Keys said.” It’s not super surprising they made semifinals. But, no, it’s one of those things when you see some of your fellow peers doing well, going deep in tournaments, it’s inspirational. Makes you kind of believe that you can do the same.”

About how Venus sees Keys’ future: “Sky’s the limit. There is no limit on what you can achieve. No one can stop you. Sometimes you may not win every match, but there’s a lot of them you can win. Really the sky’s the limit for her and anyone out there.”

On playing Serena next, Keys said: “It’s just one of those things where I have to go out and I have to do my best and I have to really just have to stay focused on my side of the court, because she’s obviously very, very good and she’s going to play very well. So if I get too focused on what she’s doing I think I can kind of let the moment get away from me. So I’m just really going to stay focused on myself.”

Serena on playing Keys:“I think she likes the surface. I’m just happy to be in the semis, and whatever happens an American will be in the final.”

“She’s playing great. I told her I was really happy that she did well. She’s in the semis. It’s good to see another American, another African American, in the semifinals playing so well. Regardless, there’s going to be an American in the finals, so that is great. It’s also great for me and Venus because we know that finally there’s other Americans that are constantly playing well and playing better, showing that they want to be the world’s greatest.”

On the men’s side of the draw, No. 1 Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka posted straight set wins to reach the semifinals. Djokovic defeated Milos Raonic 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-2 to gain his 25 major semifinal, while defending champion Wawrinka dominated Kei Nishokori with a powerful backhand 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (6).

This sets up a repeat of the last year’s dramatic quarterfinal which Wawrinka won in five sets.

 

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Keys and Halep withdraw, Radwanska falls in Sydney

By Dave Gertler
(January 13, 2015) SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – Madison Keys has withdrawn from the Apia International in Sydney, surrendering from a set up against defending champion Tsvetana Pironkova. The mid-match withdrawal came on a day when the women’s draw lost its top seed Simona Halep, who withdrew before playing her first match, suffering from a gastrointestinal illness.
“I just hit a serve weird and it just kind of impinged on my shoulder a little bit,” said Keys, who had taken the first set 6-4 on Court 3, yet was trailing in the second set 1-4 before she pulled out, “Just didn’t want to push it too hard and end up getting worse.” Keys also stressed that she would be fit for the Australian Open, starting next week, saying that she immediately called her coach Lindsay Davenport to reassure her and say, “Don’t freak out. It’s fine. She understands. She played. She gets it. Said, good call. Let’s get it better, and we’ll do whatever we can to get ready.”
For Pironkova, the dream run in Sydney continues, stretching out her unbeaten record over the last two years to 13 matches, and she will face in-form Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in the quarter-finals on Wednesday. The two most recently met on grass at Wimbledon in 2013, Pironkova winning on her way to the round of 16 that year.
Fourth seed Caroline Wozniacki’s withdrawing during her first-round match on Monday, and Agnieszka Radwanska, third seed, who lost a tight battle against Garbine Muguruza on Tuesday, means the only seed to make it through to the quarter-finals by Tuesday evening was Petra Kvitova, No.2 seed, who beat Shuai Peng in straight sets.
Radwanska, playing her first tournament with coach Martina Navratilova courtside, found herself leading Muguruza before the Spaniard switched gears, taking the next two sets 7-6, 6-2. “I played her two times before and I lost,” said Muguruza after her win, “I was like, OK, this time I want to win. I want to see what happens. For me to win this match, I feel like I improve a lot. When I play against her, I really have to concentrate and do my game, because she makes me play different styles and dropshots and long balls.”
“I think the best chance for me was winning in two sets,” said Radwanska, “In the tie-break, I think I just didn’t really go for it. She made a couple of good shots and it was over. But, well, it’s always a good sign. I have a couple days still before the Australian Open, so going to rest and prepare for that.”
Also through to the women’s quarter-finals on Tuesday’s matches were Karolina Pliskova who beat Nicole Gibbs – in for Simona Halep – 6-0, 6-0 in 38 minutes. Pliskova will play Carla Suarez Navarro who beat Ekaterina Makarova in a three-set match lasting over two hours. Garbine Muguruza will play either Angelique Kerber in her first quarter-final in Sydney, while Petra Kvitova will play Jarmila Gajdosova in what will be her third quarter-final in five appearances in Sydney.
Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney and is covering the Australian summer of tennis for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .
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Pironkova’s Run Continues and Wild Cards Thrive at the Apia International

By Dave Gertler

(January 12, 2015) SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – Tsvetana Pironkova‘s endearing and heroic run of 12 straight wins at the Apia International in Sydney might finally be cut short on Tuesday by the big game of the USA’s Madison Keys. The Bulgarian defending champion yesterday won an unlikely battle against Indian Wells champion Flavia Pennetta to advance to the second round of the main draw. Then again, her win over Pennetta is merely one of four top-12 wins the now-ranked No. 67 Pironkova has enjoyed in Sydney the last two years.

 

“I think I played a great match today,” said Pironkova of her 6-3, 7-6 win over the Italian, “I felt very good on court. I think we both did. It was a very  entertaining  match  for  the spectators. Definitely hard. I’m glad I could finish it only in two sets.” Pennetta was starting to find her range in the second set, battling from a break down to force the tie-break, at which point Pironkova’s air of Sydney invincibility took over again.

 

“Well, I obviously love it,” said Pironkova, 27, whose first and only career WTA title is last year’s Apia International. “I have very nice memories from last year. I like the surface very much. I like the people around here.  I like the city, which I think it’s important for every player to enjoy the whole experience. So I am, and I feel very, very good here.”

 

Due to her 2014 Apia International championship points being stripped at the beginning of this week, Pironkova ranking has dropped a staggering 30 spots to No.67, yet she has still managed to spin into a positive the fact that as defending champ she was declined a wildcard into the main draw this year. Pironkova said, “That was past. You know, once I came to the tournament, I had a different mindset. I was like, OK, you’re playing quallies. Just go out on the court and forget about what’s happening. Obviously you’re not getting a wildcard. Get over it and try your best. And that’s what I’m doing.”

 

While tactics, craftiness and overall tennis smarts are how Pironkova separates herself from most opponents, she will have to find a new level to beat her next opponent Madison Keys. Keys was demonstrative in her first-round win over Svetlana Kuznetsova on the main court, Ken Rosewall Arena on Sunday and will be well-rested after a day off to face an opponent who has played four matches in as many days here in Sydney.

 

Finding out for the first time in the media conference who her next opponent was, Pironkova said, “I didn’t know I play against her. Very strong opponent. I think she’s very good right now, in good form, and one of the players to look out for. So, you know, I’m just going to go out there and do my best, and hopefully I’m going to win.”

 

The two wildcards in the women’s draw were given to Australian local hopes Jarmila Gajdosova and Daria Gavrilova, who both – like Pironkova – scored upset wins in their first-round matches. Journey-woman Gajdosova’s win over world No.12 Andrea Petkovic was her highest-ranked win since 2011. In an all-Slovak battle today of sorts – Gajdosova was born and spent her formative years in Slovakia – she will take on world No.11 Dominika Cibulkova on Grandstand Court, one of many standout matches scheduled for today at Olympic Park Tennis Centre. Gavrilova’s win over Swiss Belinda Bencic was also standout, her first win over a top 20 player since 2012.

 

The Apia International’s Tuesday order of play is full of drawcards, and reads almost like a grand slam middle Saturday, perhaps minus the top-10 men’s players. Headlining action on Ken Rosewall Arena will be Juan Martin Del Potro. In his first match back from injury since February 2014, the Argentine US Open champ will face Sergiy Stakhovsky to begin his campaign to defend his 2014 Apia International title.

 

Sam Stosur, who finally managed to turn the tables against Lucie Safarova on Monday, will face her second Czech opponent in two days. Barbora Zahlavova Strycova made it into the second round when her opponent Caroline Wozniacki withdrew from their match citing wrist problems.

 

Also in action on KRA on Tuesday – Bernard Tomic, Sam Stosur, and Petra Kvitova, Nick Kyrgios and Jerzy Janowicz, while Simona Halep, Agnieszka Radwanska, Vasek Pospisil and Sam Groth take on their opponents on Grandstand and the outer courts.

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney and is covering the Australian summer of tennis for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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Sharapova Fends Off Keys in Cincinnati

 

By Dave Gertler

(August 12, 2014) MASON, OHIO – Maria Sharapova, seeded 5th at the Western & Southern Open, has survived a second-set resurgence from home-grown up and coming star Madison Keys, to win in three sets in just under two hours. Sharapova is now the first women’s player into the third round.

 

The first set was a one-sided affair, Sharapova racing to a 5-0 lead and taking the set 6-1. “After a bad first set I could have gone away,” said Keys post-match, drawing positives from the loss, “But I kind of figured it out and started playing better. It’s definitely an improvement.”

 

At 2-1 in the second set, there was an exchange of breaks before Keys broke again, holding her serve for a 5-2 lead before serving out the set 6-3, the Lindner Tennis Center crowd well and truly behind her.

 

At that point, Sharapova left the court for a few minutes, saying afterwards that a change of clothes was required because of the humidity. “I guess maybe that’s just what dry clothes does to you,” said the 27-year-old, “It gets you a bit calmer.” Sharapova broke Keys in the second game of the third set, the 19-year-old adding to her unforced-error tally at key moments.

 

Playing a high-stakes game to compete with her grand slam-winning opponent, the world No. 28 Keys served 7 double faults to 5 aces throughout the match. In the decider, said Keys of Sharapova, “She definitely stepped up her game. I also think, you know, in big points I got a little tentative. I mean, that showed, you know. I mean, after I got broken at the very beginning it was really hard to try to break back.”

Final score for Sharapova 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.

“I’m very happy with what I have been able to achieve this year,” said Sharapova, who has reached two finals here, winning one in 2011, “Because last year it was tough to miss the end of the season, you know, finding yourself in a position where you’re hurt again. I’m very happy with what I have been able to achieve this year.”

 

There’s a chance Sharapova might face fellow Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who faces Italian Karin Knapp in the third round, while Keys heads back to Boca Raton to finish preparations for the US Open.

 

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

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