2014/07/29

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

LauraRobson for Wilson

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

 

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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.

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Sharapova Makes Second Straight Indian Wells Final

Sharapova 2

(March 15, 2013) Maria Sharapova reached her second straight BNP Paribas Open final by beating long-time friend and fellow Russian No. 13 seed Maria Kirlenko 6-4, 6-3. Sharapova will play Caroline Wozniacki on Sunday for the title. Each woman has won the championship once – Wozniacki in 2011 and Sharapova in 2006. This will be Sharapova’s first final of 2013.

With Friday’s win, Sharapova will move up to the No. 2 ranking, moving past Victoria Azarenka. Serena Williams is No.1.

“I think I made the first set a bit more difficult than it should have been.  You know, I felt like it could have been up 4‑0,” Sharapova said.

“And she’s someone who has had a few comebacks in this tournament and really good results.  I think this is her best tournament yet.

“So, yeah, I stepped it up in the second set, you know.  First set was a little shady; second set was much better.”

“Still she had some double faults, like few in a row, and still I wasn’t able to break her, Kirilenko said.

“Well, I think the game was quite solid today, you know, from both of us.  Just, you know, she was maybe get a little bit more lucky today somewhere.”

Kirilenko is expected to move up to No. 13 in the world as of Monday, a spot away from her career high of No. 12. “I can say only the positive stuff for this tournament, she said. “ I’m happy the way I’m playing, and so it’s mean that I’m moving to the right direction.”

On Wozniacki, her opponent in the final Sharapova said: “She’s always a tough opponent.  You know, she’s a grinder.  She makes you work really hard on the court and gets a lot of balls back, you know, and has a lot of different variety.

“You know, I certainly don’t want to give her that time or those opportunities, because she’s a really good player.”

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Kirilenko Posts Second Straight Win Over a Top 10 Player to Move into Semis

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(March 13, 2013) Maria Kirilenko outlasted fifth seed Petra Kvitova in 90 degree heat 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 to move into her first BNP Paribas Open semifinal. For the second straight day she has taken out a top ten player. Kirilenko defeated world No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska in her round of 16 match.

“I have two wins over top 10 players, and now I feel that I can be on this level, Kirilenko said.  “Yeah, like nothing is scary out there.

So I can compete, and as you can see, like, I can beat them.”

Kirilenko has been a marathon woman this week with all four of her matches going a full three sets spending more than 10 hours on court this tournament.

“It was really hot today,” the Russian said.  “Because we did not have long points.  That’s why it was not too bad.  Like if would play Agnieszka (Radwanska) today, would be, I don’t know, the worst.

To hockey fans, Kirilenko is better known as the fiancé of Washington Capitols star Alex Ovechkin. No date for the wedding has been set yet, but they’ve been talking about it.

“Difficult because I’m playing and Alex is playing,” said the Russian.  “We are just in the period of talking what’s the best.  We will find the right day.”

“I’m so busy here,” Kirilenko said when asked about a wedding dress.

“How you want me to be, focus on the dress?”

“I think all the young girls, they want to have the best dress, the best wedding, and everything the best.”

Kirilenko will play the winner of the Maria SharaopvaSara Errani quarterfinal on Friday.

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Serena Williams Steamrolls into Quarterfinals in Melbourne

SerenaWilliamsFaceoff5 - Copy

By Jaclyn Stacey

(January 21, 2013) MELBOURNE PARK, Australia - Serena Williams destroyed Maria Kirilenko in their fourth round match at the Australian Open, Williams with 87% of first serves in and creating 22 winners on her way to the 57 minute, 6-2, 6-0 thumping.

 

“No, I definitely have never hit that high of a percentage because I take a lot of chances with my serve.”

 

“It was good. But I really want to be able to keep it up.”

 

Williams progressed into the quarterfinals and extended her current winning streak of matches to 20. She has also increased her chance of regaining the world number one title with the win, Azarenka and Sharapova both needing to make the final if they are to have any chance of claiming top spot ahead of Williams.

 

The winner of five Australian Open titles experienced little resistance from her opponent tonight and was understandably pleased with her performance after the match.

 

“I was surprised. I felt like Maria played really well. I was just trying to play well, just to keep up.”

 

Williams plays compatriot Sloane Stephens in the quarterfinal and has played a mentor role for  the young American. She believes she has what it takes to make it to the top in the sport.

 

“No. I took a lot from that match. She plays well. Like I said after the match, she can be the greatest player.”

 

“I feel like for me it will be another good match and a good opportunity for both of us.”

 

“Definitely one of us will be in the semifinals, which I think is awesome. So it’s going to be good.”

Jaclyn Stacey is a Melbourne based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open tournament as media for Tennis Panorama News.  Follow her Australian Open updates on @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal twitter @JackattackAU.

 

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Stephens Sets Up Master and Apprentice Quarterfinal Clash With Williams

SloaneStephens

By Jaclyn Stacey

(January 21, 2013) MELBOURNE PARK, Australia – Sloane Stephens continued her dream run at the Australian Open, defeating young Serbian Bojana Jovanovski in a tough three set match 6-1, 3-6, 7-5 on Monday to set up a quarterfinal clash with Serena Williams on Wednesday.

 

Stephens is a part of the next generation of American tennis players and will compete in her first Grand Slam quarterfinal against her idol Williams. The two played recently in Brisbane, Williams winning that match in straight sets 6-4, 6-3.

 

Stephens served superbly with 80% of first serves in during the match. She also managed 90% of returns into play and created 11 break point opportunities in the match, converting 7 of them.

 

The young American required only 25 minutes to win the first set, allowing Jovanovski just one game before claiming the set 6-1.

 

The Serbian came back firing in the second set however, picking up her game considerably and playing more aggressively to level the match at one set a piece.

 

The third set was very evenly matched as the two struggled to hold serve early on. With the set level at 5-5 Stephens put her foot down and broke Jovanovski to love with a forehand winner. From there she closed out the match on serve 6-1 3-6 7-5 to progress to the quarterfinals.

 

“No, I obviously didn’t feel like I had to go for more because I was hitting the ball in the service line every time.  At one point I was just like, Okay, I didn’t want to stay out there all day, you got to hit the ball or go home.”

 

“First set I came out, I was playing good, not missing much.  She was making a few errors.”

 

“Then she brought it full force second, third set. I just had to find a way. I think mentally it was pretty tough. I was thinking, Oh, my God, this is for the quarters of a Grand Slam and I’m completely just like not here right now. I was like, I need to refocus. I was playing my own self, I guess you could say. But I managed to get through, so that was good.”

 

Stephens will play her mentor Serena Williams in the quarterfinal after the top American crushed her Russian opponent Maria Kirilenko 6-2, 6-0 in 57 minutes.

 

Stephens said that having already played Williams in the past will take away the intimidation factor coming into her first Grand Slam quarterfinal.

 

“Yeah, I mean, it will be tough obviously. Its quarters of a Grand Slam. There won’t be that like first time, Oh, my God, I’m playing Serena. That’s kind of out of the window now. So that’s good. And then it will feel more of like a regular match instead of all the other like things to think about.”

 

“She’s obviously one of the greatest players to ever play the game.  Without all that, it’s still a tennis match.  You have to go out and play your game, no matter what.  Without the titles, with the titles, it’s still a tennis match.  The court’s the same size.  You’re still playing a regular person across the net.  You’ve just got to go out and play.”

 

Jaclyn Stacey is a Melbourne based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open tournament as media for Tennis Panorama News.  Follow her Australian Open updates on @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal twitter @JackattackAU.

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Kirilenko Win Sets Up Fourth Round Match Against Serena Williams

Mirror Court Adidas Event2

By Jaclyn Stacey

( January 19, 2013) MELBOURNE PARK, Australia – Fourteenth seed Maria Kirilenko triumphed in a tight encounter against Belgian Yanina Wickmayer 7-6(4), 6-3 on Super Saturday at the Australian Open and progressed into the round of 16 where she will play Serena Williams.

 

It was a bizarre start to the morning as Kirilenko was asked to remove her visor because it featured two brands on it. The visor had both the Adidas and Stella McCartney logos featured. She obliged and switched to a headband she had handy in her bag.

 

The twentieth seed Wickmayer lead 2-0 in the first set before the Russian was able to figure out her opponent’s tricky groundstrokes and break immediately back to level. The set then remained on serve, forcing a tie-break situation which Kirilenko edged out 7-6(4) to claim the first set.

 

The two swapped breaks early on in the second set until Kirilenko managed to hold serve in the fifth game. From there she dominated the match, breaking Wickmayer again and closing out the match 7-6(4) 6-3.

 

The statistics showed just how close the encounter was, Wickmayer actually creating more winners with 28 compared to 21 from Kirilenko, but also committing more errors than her Russian opponent.

 

Kirilenko was happy after the match and flashed the engagement ring from her NHL star fiancé Alex Ovechkin for the crowd.

 

She will face Serena Williams in the fourth round on Monday. The American goes into the match with a 5-0 head-to-head over the fourteenth seed. Kirilenko was in good humor when asked what she needs to do to beat Williams.

 

“Play over the net, everything done on the lines, every time serve aces and return winners and then I’m going to win this match.”

 

And more seriously she said, “I’m going to have a rest day tomorrow and I’m going to practice and concentrate on the things I need. It’s going to be good fun for me.”

 

“It’s gonna be of course a difficult match for hopefully for both of us and she is on fire now, she is winning everything and it’s tough to say with this kind of match. I’m playing well as well so we’ll see.”

 

Jaclyn Stacey is a Melbourne based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open tournament as media for Tennis Panorama News.  Follow her Australian Open updates on @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal twitter @JackattackAU.

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Wozniacki, Kirilenko and Robson “Reflecting” on Their Form Ahead of Australian Open – on a Mirrored Court

By Melinda Samson

(January 13, 2013) MELBOURNE, Australia – On Sunday adidas launched the first “adidas by Stella McCartney” barricade collection of tennis apparelto be worn by tennis players Caroline Wozniacki, Maria Kirilenko and Laura Robson.

The players featured their new outfits on a court of a different kind. Instead of the grass, clay or the hardcourt surfaces they are used to playing on, the collection was unveiled in the world’s first mirror court. The court offered a living kaleidoscope of moving reflections, and allowed the new collection to be showcased from the front, back and sides, all at the same time.

 

Inspired by the ready to wear collection, the range plays on Stella McCartney’s use of feminine lines that flatter and enhance the female form on court.

 

The tennis players will wear the range during 2013 Grand Slams, showcasing its leading design qualities, standout aesthetic and performance functionality.

 

“I always play better when I feel good, that is very important to me,” says Caroline Wozniaki.

 

“The new adidas by Stella McCartney barricade range makes me feel secure and comfortable on court. The bright color blocking and advanced technology presented in each item I’m wearing gives me the confidence to focus solely on my own performance on court,” said Wozniacki.

 

To see the new range on court at the Australian Open, watch first round matches between Caroline Wozniaki and Sabine Lisicki, Maria Kirilenko against Vania King and Laura Robson versus Melanie Oudin.

 

Melinda Samson lives in Melbourne and runs the site Grand Slam Gal. Follow her on twitter @Grandslamgal.

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Kourtin’ Karen’s Tennis Week in Review

(January 2, 2013) NEW YORK, NY – After a hiatus longer than Rafael Nadal’s current one from the tour, Kourtin’ Karen is back with her weekly scoreboards. A brief review of the previous week in the world of tennis news, on and off-court.

 

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0-15

Rafael Nadal withdraws from Australian Open

Eleven- time major champion and current world No. 4 Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from the Australian Open due to a continuing stomach virus.

The ailment caused Nadal to withdraw from this week’s World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi.

Rafael Nadal has been off the tour with a knee injury since his second round loss at Wimbledon in June.

Andrea Perkovic  may join Nadal  on the Australian Open sidelines as the German suffered a meniscus tear of her right knee during her Hopman Cup match.

 

Maria Sharapova pulled out of Brisbane with a right collarbone injury.

 

Murray at Olympics

15-15

“Sir” Murray

Andy Murray has been awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE).

Murray said in a statement on his website:

“It is with incredible pride that I have been named in the New Year’s Honours List to receive an OBE from Her Majesty the Queen for services to sport.

‘This has been an amazing year for British sport and I am proud to have been able to play my part.

“I reached my first Wimbledon final, competed and won gold at the London 2012 Olympics with Team GB at Wimbledon, and then won my first grand slam title at the US Open.

“Being recognised in such a way at the end of such a great season is the finishing touch on 2012. Thank you all for your support, I hope everyone has a very happy New Year…..and here’s to 2013!”

 

15-30

Ring-gate

In Brisbane Caroline Wozniacki was spotted with a large ring on her on her left ring finger.  Her boyfriend, golfer Rory McIlroy had to deny there was an engagement and his management company issued the following statement:

“On behalf of Rory McIlroy, I would like to confirm that he has NOT become engaged to Caroline Wozniacki as was originally reported in Australian press. Rory is in Australia to support Caroline before he heads in January to Abu Dhabi.”

The ring which was a Christmas gift was…just a gift.

”It’s not an engagement ring,” Wozniacki said.  ”Those rumors once again I’ll have to shut down and say we’re not engaged … not yet anyway.”

 

OvechkinKirilenko

30-30

Love is in the air

Washington Capitals hockey player, two-time NHL MVP and boyfriend of Maria Kirilenko, Alex Ovechkin announced the couple’s engagement via his twitter account.

Hew tweeted ”We are engaged !!!!!!! )))))))))”

 

30-40

Beware the barricades

 

 

Novak Djokovic has a scare at Hopman Cup on Monday. A crowd barrier collapsed while he was signing autographs for fans following his singles win over Andreas Seppi.  The barrier hit the Serb’s legs but he said he was fine.

 

Deuce

Hello, Goodbye IMG

Novak Djokovic signed with IMG while Rafael Nadal is leaving IMG to begin his own management company.

Also on the business front:

ATP Unveils New Global Promotional Campaign As 2013 ATP World Tour Gets Underway

USA TODAY’s Jon Swartz reports Nadal has a new iPhone app called Rafael Nadal Tennis Academy . Look for it one iTunes.

Emirates Named Official Airline of the ATP World Tour and Rankings Sponsor

 

Ad – Out of Davis Cup

Juan Martin Del Potro is skipping Davis cup at least in February for Argentina

Spain’s David Ferrer and Nicolas Almagro told Sport360 that they may not play the February tie against Canada.

 

Deuce

No donkey cheese

Novak Djokovic has not cornered the market on donkey cheese as had been reported by British newspapers.

“I did not expect this story was going to get so much attention, and everywhere in the world, too. It is not completely true that we have bought the whole supply of donkey cheese, even though it was the first time in my life I heard that donkey cheese existed.”

 

Advantage

Working in a coal mine

Retired Pros Marcelo Rios and Guillermo Coria will play an exhibition match inside El Teniente, the world’s largest copper mine.

Djokovic1228abudhabi

Speaking of exhibitions, Djokovic captured the World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi this past weekend.

 

Game, Set, Match – Welcome to the 2013 tennis year!

Tournaments and events this week in Auckland, Brisbane, Chennai, Doha, Perth and Shenzhen.

(Karen Pestaina is the woman behind Tennis Panorama News. She freelances for various media outlets in and out of tennis and has worked for many a broadcast news entity. She witnessed her first live tennis match as a young child at Forest Hills when Guillermo Vilas upset Jimmy Connors to win the 1977 US Open. This branded her as a Vilas fan for life. Follow her on twitter @TennisNewsTPN )

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