November 25, 2015

Sharapova and Djokovic make Quick Work of Challengers during US Open Night Session

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(August 25, 2014) FLUSHING MEADOWs – Night session on day one of the 2014 US Open had Maria Sharapova and Novak Djokovic with easy victories. Sharapova won the last 10 games of her match to dismiss friend Maria Kirilenko 6-4, 6-0, making a return to Flushing Meadows as she missed last year’s event due to an injured right shoulder.

“I thought there was a few times where I could have broken her in the beginning of the match. But I think she started off playing well and solid,” Sharapova said. “Despite not taking those opportunities in a couple of her service games, I felt pretty good, especially towards the end of the match.”

No. 113 Kirilenko, never won another game after taking a 4-2 lead. She had not played since Wimbledon.

“We spent a lot of time in the juniors away from the courts practicing a lot together, competing against each other,” Sharapova said. “We certainly have a big history together. But when you go out on the court, it’s always that fine line between, of course you want to be the winner, you have to face that person as a competitor, not someone that you’ve known for years and developed a friendship with. It’s always a tricky balance, I guess.”

Djokovic cruised past a 22-year-old Argentine Diego Schwartzman 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 in his first main draw at Flushing Meadows.

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“I thought I hit the ball very well throughout the whole match,” Djokovic said. “Diego is a talented player; very quick on the court. He has to work on his serve a little bit more, I feel. He didn’t put so much pressure on his serve. You know, he’s not so tall so it’s difficult for him to serve well. But it was obviously first big match for him, first hard court Grand Slam match on the biggest stadium in the night session. I’m sure he was a bit nervous. I thought he played well. I was happy with the first match.”

Djokovic has reached the US Open final four straight years running. The Serbian won the event back in 2011 and is currently No. 1.

“It’s definitely a privilege, you know, and responsibility,’ Djokovic said of being the top seed.. “Pressure is part of the sport. I’m used to it already


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

LauraRobson for Wilson

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


Sharapova Edges Jankovic, Meets Azarenka in Semifinal

Victoria Azarenka

Victoria Azarenka

By Ros Satar


(June 5, 2013) PARIS – Defending champion Maria Sharapova edged out Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic in a nervy three-setter to book her slot in the women’s semifinals – 0-6 6-4, 6-3.


Certainly the start of the match slipped away from Sharapova rapidly as Jankovic stormed ahead break after break, closing out a 6-0 score line in just under half an hour.


Sharapova, however, got her eye back in the game, breaking Jankovic right at the start of the second set and again for that all important double-break cushion.


There looked like there might be a brief wobble, at Sharapova’s first attempt to serve the set out, getting broken.


The Russian made no mistake the second time, leaving Jankovic to berate herself, her box and probably anyone else in earshot.


Perhaps even more ironic, this pair had completed two sets before Azarenka/Kirilenko had managed to finish their first set.


The third set was a tighter affair, with the decisive first break going Sharapova’s way to lead 4-3, delivering the final blow by breaking to take the third set 6-3.


After the match, Jankovic summed the match up, saying: “Overall was a big fight.  “It was great tennis out there.  We battled, you know, [it] was few points here and there that made a difference.”


Jankovic had been playing in three disciplines at the French Open, in a bit to use the doubles experience to help improve her singles play, but acknowledged it had been a lot of tennis in the last two weeks.


In an earlier news conference, Jankovic had joked that maybe the last time the pair had faced each other on clay, it would have been at the Bollettieri academy, when they were about 12.


But she praised Sharapova today, saying: “Credit to her.


“At the end she was a better player.  I was a bit unlucky, but I fought hard until the end.”


“I played a lot, but overall I had an amazing tournament.”


Sharapova admitted her own start had been less than spectacular.


She said: “I think clay really suits her game.


“She plays extremely well on it because she loves to defend.  She can do that all day long.”


It was important for her to put that first set behind her, and regroup for the decider.


“In the third set it was still extremely tough.  You know, we held serve for a while, and it was really important to get that break.”


Over on Lenglen, the passage of play could not have been more different.


While Sharapova and Jankovic were getting into their decider, Victoria Azarenka and Maria Kirilenko were duking it out in a first set that lasted 76 minutes.


Kirilenko left the court for a medical timeout, leaving Azarenka to practice serves.


Then after a 10 minute hold, a couple of breaks at the tail end of the set pushed the pair into a tie-break.


Azarenka was able to build up a lead to take the first set 76(3).


After that, it seemed to be plain sailing for the Belarusian, breaking Kirilenko early in the second, and then again in the last game to finish their match while the other Russian was still battling in the decider.


Having described herself in the past as not quite “married” to the clay yet, she elaborated that the relationship might have moved on.


“I still don’t have any ring on my finger.  (Smiling.)

“But I feel like, you know, we made a step forward.  We are moving in together.  (Laughter.)”


Azarenka leads the head-to-head against Sharapova 7-5, but Sharapova has beaten her the two times they have played on clay.



Easy Does It For Azarenka – Reaches Third French Quarterfinal

Victoria Azarenka Miami Players Party

By Ros Satar

(June 3, 2013) PARIS – It started as a baseline battle for the former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, and ended up as easy as a walk along the Champs Élysées, as the third seed reeled off 7 games in a row to win 6-3, 6-0 over Francesca Schiavone.

Conditions were cloudy and breezy on court today with Azarenka opting to stay warm with leggings on throughout the match.

Things started promisingly for the Belarusian with an early break in the third game, but that was then the start of a bit of a break-fest.

The women traded 5 successive breaks in a row, before Azarenka managed a hold, and it was to be the start of her run of games to the end.

Schiavone at times seemed to be struggling with her serve, stuttering her feet as if to try and catch up with a wandering ball toss.

It was a costly shuffle, with a couple of foot-faults which hardly helped her cause today.

At her post match conference, Schiavone acknowledged that a good serve was very important today, but that it had not been the contributing factor.

“She [Azarenka] has an intensity & high level for an hour and a half, and I had [it] for [a] shorter time.

“I have to be used to keep going that way, and I think that was the key.”

Azarenka gave credit to her opponent, despite such a dominating win.

She said: “It was definitely a very good challenge for me to play against Francesca, especially knowing how well she’s done here in the past.

“I’m glad with the way I played today.

“I just always try to take it one at a time, and I know the next match will have nothing to do with what happened today.”

She felt that she was finally learning what she needed to do to improve on the surface.

“I understand that it’s not about the game that you really have to adjust.  It’s about your movement.

“You have to not only think of how you move left to right but how you come [with] small steps to the ball.

Azarenka reaches her third quarter-final, having reached it twice before in 2009 and 2011.

Azarenka has never progressed further than the QF in 7 years.

She concluded: “I’m excited, you know, definitely that all the preparation I have been doing is doing well.

“It’s definitely a great opportunity to take that step.”

Azarenka will face Russia’s Maria Kirilenko, who defeated Bethanie Mattek-Sands 7-5, 6-4, and knows it will be a tough match to come through.

“She’s definitely improved a lot over the last couple years since she’s very motivated player.”

Azarenka leads their head–to-head 3-2, and the pair have never met on clay.