August 30, 2015

Murray, Sharapova Advance as Venus Williams Falls at Roland Garros

(May 24, 2015) Third seed Andy Murray and second seed Maria Sharapova had straight set wins on day two of the French Open, while former finalist and the oldest woman in the draw, 15th seed Venus Williams lost along with four other seeds on Monday in Paris.

Making her 18th appearance in Paris, Venus Williams’ Roland Garros was ended in the first round by American countrywoman Sloane Stephens 7-6(5), 6-1. Stephens became just the second American to ever defeat both Serena and Venus Williams at a major. Stephens beat Serena in the quarterfinals of the 2013 Australian Open.

After the loss, Venus declined to speak to media. She did issue a statement which said that Stephens “just played better than me today.”

Williams said that she will be turning her focus to grass-court season.

“I have a little while now between tournaments and so now I’ll just get ready for the grass at Wimbledon.”

She is facing a potential fine for not having a news conference.

“Obviously it’s a tough first round of a Grand Slam,” Stephens said. “So going into it I knew I was going to have to just come out and be really solid and play my tennis. I did that today. That was good.”

“I didn’t really know what to expect. I mean, obviously she’s a great player and a great champion. I knew I was just going to have to get out there and do my best.”

Defending champion Sharapova defeated Kaia Kanepi 6-2, 6-4 in her first round match. Sharapova nursing a cough during the match, declined an on-court interview, which lead to spectators booing her as she left the court.

“But it’s just the way it is. I’m getting over it, and hopefully it will pass by soon,” she said.

Andy Murray stretched his unbeaten streak during the clay court season to 11, with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 win over Argentina’s Facundo Arguello, who reached the main draw as a lucky loser.

The Scot talked about the windy conditions on court.

“I felt like it was difficult. The start was very windy on the court and cold, so it was quite slow conditions. I found it difficult at the beginning. Then I felt, you know, when the wind died down a bit in the second and third set, I felt that the level of tennis was better.”

Besides Venus Williams, four other seeds made exits on Monday including No. 11 Feliciano Lopez who lost to Teymuraz Gabashvili and former Wimbledon finalist No. 14 Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 against Annika Beck.

Others who bowed out were No. 30 Adrien Mannarino and No. 22 Barbora Strycova.

Share

2015 French Open Women’s Contender Profiles – Fast Facts with Jack Cunniff

Serena+Williams+BNP+Paribas+Open+Day+4+smeQToASxcPl

(May 23, 2015) Profiles of the top Women’s Singles contenders for the 2015 French Open. Note: Grand Slam records for main draw matches only.  – by Jack Cunniff     http://twitter.com/jrcunniff

 

Serena Williams

2015 Record: 25-1

Grand Slam Record: 266-39

French Open Record: 47-11

French Open Best Result: Won (2002, ‘13)

Fast Fact: Serena’s record in the opening two rounds of a Grand Slam event is 112-3 (97%), but in the last three years of Roland Garros, that record is 1-2 (33%), losing to Razzano in 1R of 2012 and Muguruza in 2R of 2014.

 

Maria Sharapova

2015 Record: 26-5

Grand Slam Record: 171-41

French Open Record: 50-10

French Open Best Result: Won (2012, ‘14)

Fast Fact: Only two players in the draw have defeated Sharapova at Roland Garros (S. Williams, Ivanovic).

 

Simona Halep

2015 Record: 29-6

Grand Slam Record: 31-19

French Open Record: 7-5

French Open Best Result: RU (2014)

Fast Fact: In her career, Halep has only defeated two Top Ten players on clay (No. 4 Radwanska, 2013 Rome; No. 6 Kvitova, 2014 Madrid).

 

Petra Kvitova

2015 Record: 21-6

Grand Slam Record: 67-25

French Open Record: 15-6

French Open Best Result: SF (2012)

Fast Fact: Outside of Wimbledon, Kvitova hasn’t reached the fourth round of a Grand Slam event since the 2012 U.S. Open.

 

Caroline Wozniacki

2015 Record: 23-10

Grand Slam Record: 80-32

French Open Record: 13-8

French Open Best Result: QF (2010)

Fast Fact: Wozniacki has been past the third round of the French Open only once (2010).

 

Eugenie Bouchard

2015 Record: 7-9

Grand Slam Record: 27-8

French Open Record: 6-5

French Open Best Result: SF (2014)

Fast Fact: All of Bouchard’s Grand Slam losses have been to players ranked in the Top 20.

 

Ana Ivanovic

2015 Record: 11-9

Grand Slam Record: 98-40

French Open Record: 30-9

French Open Best Result: Won (2008)

Fast Fact: In 2014, Ivanovic lost her opening match only once, in September at Wuhan; through the first five months of 2015, Ivanovic has lost her opening match on three occasions.

 

Carla Suarez Navarro

2015 Record: 31-10

Grand Slam Record: 45-25

French Open Record: 15-6

French Open Best Result: QF (2008, ‘14)

Fast Fact: Suarez Navarro’s record vs. Top Ten opponents in 2015 is 9-6 (60%); prior to 2015 it was 11-33 (25%).

 

Ekaterina Makarova

2015 Record: 15-9

Grand Slam Record: 53-30

French Open Record: 6-7

French Open Best Result: 4R (2011)

Fast Fact: Makarova is the only woman who has reached at least the quarterfinals in the last three Grand Slam events.

 

Andrea Petkovic

2015 Record: 16-9

Grand Slam Record: 32-21

French Open Record: 11-4

French Open Best Result: SF (2014)

Fast Fact: Petkovic won five matches en route to the semifinals of Roland Garros last year, which accounts for half of her ten Grand Slam match victories since 2012.

 

Angelique Kerber

2015 Record: 23-11

Grand Slam Record: 48-29

French Open Record: 11-7

French Open Best Result: QF (2012)

Fast Fact: Kerber has never defeated a higher-ranked opponent at Roland Garros.

 

Karolina Pliskova

2015 Record: 29-10

Grand Slam Record: 8-11

French Open Record: 1-3

French Open Best Result: 2R (2012)

Fast Fact: Pliskova has never advanced past the third round at a Grand Slam event.

 

Lucie Safarova

2015 Record: 16-10

Grand Slam Record: 42-39

French Open Record: 11-10

French Open Best Result: 4R (2007, ’14)

Fast Fact: Since 2014, Safarova has a winning record of 13-5 (72%) in Grand Slam events; prior to 2014, it was 29-34 (46%).

 

Agnieszka Radwanska

2015 Record: 15-12

Grand Slam Record: 93-35

French Open Record: 18-8

French Open Best Result: QF (2013)

Fast Fact: Seeded 14th for Roland Garros, it’s Radwanska’s lowest seed in a Grand Slam event since 2008 Wimbledon, having been seeded higher in the last 26 Slams.

 

Venus Williams

2015 Record: 20-6

Grand Slam Record: 225-58

French Open Record: 42-17

French Open Best Result: RU (2002)

Fast Fact:   Venus has won 20 matches this year entering the French Open, her best start to a season since 2010 (26-4), when she was ranked No. 2.

 

Madison Keys

2015 Record: 15-8

Grand Slam Record: 15-11

French Open Record: 1-2

French Open Best Result: 2R (2013)

Fast Fact: Keys has won more than half of her career Grand Slam victories (8 of 15) in her last three Grand Slam events.

 

 

Share

Maria Sharapova Wins Third Italian Open Title

(May 17, 2015) Once Maria Sharapova was a self-proclaimed “cow on ice,” in terms of her game on a clay court. Years later with 11 clay court crowns to her name including two French Open titles, the phrase almost seems laughable.

No one was laughing on Sunday, when the Russian rebounded from a first set loss to topple Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 to win the Italian Open in two hours and 35 minutes, her third championship in Rome and 35th career title.

“It wasn’t easy to find a rhythm out there, with the way she plays, and the wind….I really had to adjust,” Sharapova said. “But I’m proud I was able to stay in there. I never felt I was playing very clean until the end of the third set. So it shows that it’s good to hang in there and just stay positive out there.

“In the end I was the fresher one, and the more aggressive one, so it’s all a positive. And looking at how I started the clay court season in Stuttgart and where I am now, I feel I’m in a much better spot.”

Sharapova’s week, moves her up a spot in the rankings to No. 2, which means she’ll be the second seed at next week’s second major of the year, the French Open.

Despite the loss in the final Suarez Navarro had a week in which defeated three Top 10 players at the same tournament for the first time in her career, including No. 2 seed Simona Halep. The Spaniard is being rewarded with a jump in the rankings next week from 10 to No. 8.

“I was practicing really hard before Madrid and Rome, and I’m playing some good tennis right now,” she said. “Maria was just too good today. It was a really close match, and I started really well, but at the end of the second set she started playing more aggressive, and I think that was the key.”

“I remember coming to Italy as a little girl and this was one of the tournaments I dreamed of playing,” Sharapova said. “Now to win it for a third time is very special.”

Sharapova has won 62 of her last 68 matches on clay as she heads into the French Open trying to defend last year’s title.

Share

Djokovic and Federer to Meet in Rome Final

228 Federer Djokovic handshake-001

(May 16, 2015) Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic will meet in the Italian Open final on Sunday. No. 1 Djokovic downed David Ferrer 6-4, 6-4 while Federer came back from 0-3 in the first set to beat Swiss countryman Stan Wawrinka 6-4, 6-2.

The women’s final in Rome will feature two-time former champion Maria Sharapova against Carla Suarez Navarro. Sharapova beat Russian qualifier Daria Gavrilova 7-5, 6-3 while Suarez Navarro rallied past No. 2 seed Simona Halep 2-6, 6-3, 7-5. The win for Sharapova means she’ll move back up to No. 2 in the rankings on Monday and will be the second seed for the French Open.

“We were breaking serve all the time, but it’s because we were both returning very well,” Suárez Navarro said. “It was tough for me, it was tough for Simona – but I’m really happy with the way I finished the match today.

“I’ve been practicing really hard during the whole season, and I’m playing with a lot of confidence right now. I’m playing more aggressively, which is important when you’re playing the top players.”

Federer will be seeking to win a Masters event he’s never won on Sunday. This is the fourth time he’s reached the finalThe No. 2 player has never won Monte Carlo either.

“I just like winning a title. Now OK, this is Rome, and it’s one I’ve never won so you might think it’s extra special but for some reason it’s not for me,” Federer said.

“Stan played well in the first set,” said Federer. “In the second set he had a sort of breakdown. He wasn’t serving his best. I was definitely able to take advantage of it.”

Both Djokovic and Federer had some concerns about the court which had holes. Federer’s feet were stuck in a hole and could not turn around to take a shot.

“In a couple of places the holes are really deep,” Djokovic said. “If you slide and get into that hole you can twist an ankle easily. It’s dangerous to play in these conditions.”

Federer and Djokovic will be meeting for the 39th time, with Federer leading the head-two-head 20-18.

Sharapova leads Suarez Navarro 3-1.

 

 

RESULTS – MAY 16, 2015

WTA Singles – Semifinals

[10] C. Suárez Navarro (ESP) d [2] S. Halep (ROU) 26 63 75
[3] M. Sharapova (RUS) d [Q] D. Gavrilova (RUS) 75 63


WTA Doubles – Semifinals

[1] M. Hingis (SUI) / S. Mirza (IND) d [4] C. Garcia (FRA) / K. Srebotnik (SLO) 62 76(5)
[3] T. Babos (HUN) / K. Mladenovic (FRA) d [8] A. Kudryavtseva (RUS) / A. Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 62 63

ATP Singles – Semifinals
[1] N. Djokovic (SRB) d [7] D. Ferrer (ESP) 64 64
[2] R. Federer (SUI) d [8] S. Wawrinka (SUI) 64 62

ATP Doubles – Semifinals
[5] M. Granollers (ESP) / M. Lopez (ESP) d N. Kyrgios (AUS) / J. Sock (USA) 61 36 11-9
P. Cuevas (URU) / D. Marrero (ESP) d K. Anderson (RSA) / J. Chardy (FRA) 64 64

SCHEDULE – SUNDAY, 17 MAY 2015

CENTRALE start 11:00
WTA DOUBLES FINAL – [1] M. Hingis (SUI) / S. Mirza (IND) vs [3] T. Babos (HUN) / K. Mladenovic (FRA)
Not Before 1:30 pm
WTA SINGLES FINAL – [3] M. Sharapova (RUS) vs [10] C. Suárez Navarro (ESP)
Not Before 4:00 pm
ATP SINGLES FINAL – [1] N. Djokovic (SRB) vs [2] R. Federer (SUI)

PIETRANGELI start 2:30 pm
ATP DOUBLES FINAL – P. Cuevas (URU) / D. Marrero (ESP) vs [5] M. Granollers (ESP) / M. Lopez (ESP)

Share

Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova Upset in Madrid Open Semis

Serena shrugs

(May 8, 2015) Top seed Serena Williams lost her first match of 2015, falling to two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the semifinals of the Madrid Open on Friday 6-2, 6-3. Earlier in the day, defending champion Maria Sharapova was ousted by Russian countrywoman Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4, 6-4.

For the Czech Kvitova, it was her first win over the 19-time major champion. “For sure I’m happy I won today,” Kvitova said in her on-court interview. “I had never beaten her, so it’s a really special moment for me.”

“I think she just played well today,” Williams said. “I mean, she went for broke on every serve, every return. I hit some second serves, 170, 175, and she just hit them for winners. I was very slow off the mark. After my serve I wasn’t moving as well as I should have. You know, I wasn’t in it.

“I wasn’t Serena today. I think that was the main thing.”

The loss ended her 27-match unbeaten streak dating back to 2014. “I’m just exhausted today,” Williams said.

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova

For Kuznetsova it’s the first time in seven years that she beat Sharapova. “I’m just happy to be in the final,” said Kuznetsova,

“Today she had much more pop on her ball than I did, while I felt my shots were a bit too flat,” Sharapova said. ”

On the men’s side, Rafael Nadal, Tomas Berdych, Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori reached the men’s semifinals

Defending Madrid Open champion Nadal beat Grigor Dimitrov 6-3, 6-4. Berdych defeated John Isner, 3-6, 7-6 (7), 7-6 (1).

“It’s great news to be in the semifinals, it’s a very positive result for me,” Nadal said. “I am pleased with the way I played this afternoon, very happy.”

“Very happy about the way things have worked out. I passed a test that was really important for me.”

RESULTS – FRIDAY, 8 MAY 2015


WTA Singles – Semifinals

[4] P. Kvitova (CZE) d [1] S. Williams (USA) 62 63
S. Kuznetsova (RUS) d [3] M. Sharapova (RUS) 62 64


WTA Doubles – Semifinals

[3] G. Muguruza (ESP) / C. Suárez Navarro (ESP) d K. Mladenovic (FRA) / K. Pliskova (CZE) 61 36 10-6
C. Dellacqua (AUS) / Y. Shvedova (KAZ) d [7] B. Mattek-Sands (USA) / L. Safarova (CZE) 75 36 10-7

ATP Singles – Quarter-Finals
[2] A. Murray (GBR) d [5] M. Raonic (CAN) 64 75
[3] R. Nadal (ESP) d [10] G. Dimitrov (BUL) 63 64
[4] K. Nishikori (JPN) d [7] D. Ferrer (ESP) 64 62
[6] T. Berdych (CZE) d [16] J. Isner (USA) 36 76(7) 76(1) – saved 1 M.P.

ATP Doubles – Quarter-Finals

[6] M. Granollers (ESP) / M. Lopez (ESP) d [3] V. Pospisil (CAN) / J. Sock (USA) 26 01 ret. (Pospisil – Ankle Sprain)
[5] M. Matkowski (POL) / N. Zimonjic (SRB) d M. Cilic (CRO) / V. Troicki (SRB) 64 67(4) 13-11
R. Bopanna (IND) / F. Mergea (ROU) d J. Cabal (COL) / A. Mannarino (FRA) 63 62
[WC] F. Lopez (ESP) / M. Mirnyi (BLR) d J. Murray (GBR) / J. Peers (AUS) 64 67(1) 10-4

SCHEDULE – SATURDAY, 9 MAY 2015

MANOLO SANTANA Start Not Before 3:00 pm
ATP – [6] T. Berdych (CZE) vs [3] R. Nadal (ESP)
Not Before 5:30 pm
WTA – Singles Final – [4] P. Kvitova (CZE) vs S. Kuznetsova (RUS)
Not Before 8:00 pm
ATP – [4] K. Nishikori (JPN) vs [2] A. Murray (GBR)
WTA – Doubles Final – C. Dellacqua (AUS) / Y. Shvedova (KAZ) vs [3] G. Muguruza (ESP) / C. Suárez Navarro (ESP)

ARANTXA SÁNCHEZ-VICARIO start 3:00 pm
ATP – R. Bopanna (IND) / F. Mergea (ROU) vs [6] M. Granollers (ESP) / M. Lopez (ESP)
ATP – [5] M. Matkowski (POL) / N. Zimonjic (SRB) vs [WC] F. Lopez (ESP) / M. Mirnyi (BLR)

Share

Maria Sharapova Pulls Out of Fed Cup

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova

(April 14, 2015) Maria Sharapova is withdrawing from playing for Russia in the Fed Cup semifinals this weekend against Germany with a leg injury. Sharapova posted a message about her withdrawal on her Facebook page:

 

Maria Sharapova

Athlete · 14,627,224 Likes

· 5 hrs ·

Withdrawing from this weekend’s Fed Cup was no easy decision. You probably haven’t seen me post any pictures on court, that is simply because there haven’t been many. I just started a couple of days ago and going to work myself up to creating a good healthy base.

I will be following the girls on my live stream this weekend, cheering them on, as I try to be ready for next week’s tournament in Stuttgart.

Withdrawing from this weekend’s Fed Cup was no easy decision. You probably haven’t seen me post any pictures on court,…

Posted by Maria Sharapova on Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Share

Maria Sharapova Falls to Defending Champ Flavia Pennetta at Indian Wells

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova

(March 17, 2015) Former BNP Paribas Open champion Maria Sharapova lost 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 to defending champion Flavia Pennetta on Tuesday evening. For the emotional Italian Pennetta it was her ninth straight win in Indian Wells, California.

Pennetta left the court during the first set and cried.

“Sometimes you just need to take everything out,” said Pennetta. “I mean, in the court it’s not easy to do that. I was just trying to keep calm and playing every point.

“But then when I finish the first set I was feeling, Okay, I have to go out.”

“For the first two or three games I was OK,” Pennetta continued “Then it’s coming. Like I never expect. I never do something like that. Normally you go away and you don’t want to stay on the court. But for me was important to just keep calm and try to play. In the end I just play really well.”

The 33-year-old Pennetta hit 34 unforced errors and 15 winners opposed to her Russian opponent with 42 unforced errors and 27 winners to along with 11 double faults.

“Last two times I beat her 2009 and 2011 I think, and every match we play I think was a third set,” said Pennetta. “Every match. Also the two before I lost: 2006 in Wimbledon and another one I don’t remember ‑‑ here.

“It was always really tough and close match. I think for sure, I mean, when you go on the court and you know you lose the last two times you think a little bit more.

“I just try to play in the way I always play against her. I mean, if you give her time you are dead, so you have to hit the ball, try to be aggressive the most you can, and try to go all the time for the good shot.”

I mean, it’s always the way I play, but sometimes when I play with not the big one I’m waiting a little bit more. But with this kind of player you have to take the chance you have, because it’s just coming once. If you wait, they are back.

Pennetta broke the world No 2’s serve twice in the deciding set.

“I don’t think the match starts in the third set,” said Sharapova. “I got off to a good start. Definitely had some chances in the beginning of the second set. Few Love‑40, Love‑30 games.

“Yeah, just didn’t, you know, commit enough. Didn’t take one of those. I think she gained a little bit of confidence after that. She started feeling a little bit kind of fresh breath of air. Started going a little bit more for her serve, for the lines.

“I just felt she got in a really good rhythm. Everything I gave her she was able to hit back solid with pace. She mixed it up. She was seeing the ball a lot better.”

“We haven’t played in a while so it’s tough to compare today’s match to the other ones,” noted the five-time major winner. “Today’s situation, I think it was ‑‑ when you let someone kind of back in, when you’re, you know, there in front of them and, you know, you’re doing the right things ‑‑ okay, maybe I wasn’t playing my best tennis in the first set, but I was competitive enough and solid enough and was doing the right things.

“Just wasn’t able to step up in the key moments in the second.”

Pennetta will play the winner of the Sabine Lisicki/Caroline Garcia match in the quarterfinals.

Share

Upstarts and Upsets in the second week at Indian Wells

Caroline Wozniacki

Caroline Wozniacki

(March 16, 2015) INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA – As the women’s draw started to fill the brackets for the last of the round of 16, we saw some of the old guard fall foul to the up-and-comers.

First in (and indeed out) was Caroline Wozniacki who met her end to Belinda Bencic. The last time the pair played was in Istanbul last year. Wozniacki was at the start of a tear through the tournaments after an upsetting summer with the collapse of her impending nuptials to Irish golfer Rory McIlroy, and it was the making of the latter half of her tennis year.

However in the way was Bencic who was battered off court that day 6-0, 6-0 in just 44 minutes. In fairness the Swiss had hardly been on a roll since the start of the year, winning just one match in Dubai but she could at least gleefully poke fun at her Istanbul outing.

“The difference was that I won a game!” Bencic joked. “No, I was really happy after the first game I won, obviously, but I think I played more solid today. In Istanbul I had maybe too much respect and I was afraid, nervous. Today I really had a good game plan. I did what I had to do out there. I served well and had some easy points on my serve because of that. It was a solid match.”

Wozniacki had to acknowledge that on the day she had just come across a better player, saying: “Honestly, it was two completely different matches,” Wozniacki told reporters. “She was steady, she took the ball early and she served well, but I just didn’t put three balls in play today. But hats off to her – she took advantage of that and she played well during the important points in the match today.”

Jelena Jankovic

Jelena Jankovic

There was almost another grand old lady of the tour on the ropes as Jelena Jankovic had to fight from a set down to get past the power hitting of Madison Keys 5-7, 6-4, 6-3. As always with Jankovic, humour got the better of her, and why not? She was feeling god, and quite possibly dealt a bloody nose to one of the WTA Rising Stars that felt this had been a winnable match.

Keys smacked Petra Kvitova off the court at the Australian Open, and Jankovic could certainly see why as she explained in her press conference.

“It was like bombs or bullets constantly coming at me for about two‑and‑a‑half hours. I mean, her ball is so strong. It’s such a heavy ball. I think she’s probably, I mean, maybe with Serena. Probably the hardest hitting player out there in this moment.”

At times Jankovic tried to slow the pace down by taking her time to get ready between points, and she joked: “But you would take your time too when those balls are coming at you. What else am I supposed to do?”

316Keys-001

Madison Keys

 

For Keys though, while it was a tough loss she was at least able to find some slight vein of amusement at her tactics against Jankovic who, on her day, can mix up and disrupt play with the best of them, as she assessed her failing backhand.

Ruefully smiling, she said: “Yeah, I’m that person, Oh, I didn’t make it? Let me try it again 37 times.”

She continued: “Because it’s one of those things that as soon as you hit it, That was so dumb; why did I do that? The crosscourt is completely open, yet I try to hit it an inch other the net and I missed it. Again. Let me try it again next point. It’s not smart, for sure. I really wish I could tell you, you know, it’s just because I’m stubborn and I just wanted to make one. If I ever figure it out, you’ll be the first one that I can tell.”

Another seed to fall by the wayside was Ana Ivanovic, who lost for the second time in a row, in as many weeks to Caroline Garcia 6-2, 5-7, 6-2. After a brisk start to the year, Ivanovic has had to deal with a broken toe (from slamming her foot against the shower door) and now an inflamed elbow.

She said: “I have to work because I haven’t been playing lots of matches and so on. I feel like I need to get back in shape. It’s getting better but I feel like there’s a lot of work to be done and then yet I have these niggles here and there that are stopping me.”

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova

With Maria Sharapova restoring some sense of order, dispatching one of the trickier names in the draw, Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 6-3, we close out a day which more or less saw the honours split evenly between the old ladies of the tour and the chasing pack of Rising Stars.

Ros Satar is a British sports journalist and a writer at Livetennis.com.

Share

Serena Williams Wins 6th Australian Open for 19th Grand Slam Title

 

(January 31, 2015) Serena Williams moved up on the all-time list of Grand Slam title holders beating Maria Sharapova 6-3, 7-6 (5) to win her sixth Australian Open title on Saturday night. It’s the 33-year-old’s 19th major, tying her with Helen Wills Moody for third on the all-time list, just behind Steffi Graf (22) and Margaret Court (24). The American passes both Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert with 18 each.

“I would love to get to 22,” Williams said. “I mean, 19 was very difficult to get to. Took me 33 years to get here, so… I would love to get there. But I have to get to 20 first, and then I have to get to 21. There’s so many wonderful young players coming up, so it will be a very big task. My next goal was just to get to 19. That was my goal. So I didn’t think it would happen this fast, to be honest, but it feels really good.”

Battling a cold during the tournament, No. 1 Williams remains unbeaten in six finals. She is the oldest Australian Open champion of the Open Era.

“Standing here with 19 majors is something I never thought would happen,” Williams said during the trophy ceremony. “I went on the court with a ball, a racket and a hope”

“I have to congratulate Maria. She really pushed me tonight. She played a great match… not only for you guys but for tennis”

“I haven’t beaten her in a really long time but I love playing her because you want to play the best,” world No. 2 Sharapova said. “And she’s the best.”

It was the 16th straight win for Williams over Sharapova to raise her record to 17- 2 over the Russian.

The match began with the roof open on Rod Laver Arena, but the rain came and the roof close in the first set causing a 13-minute delay.

Williams promptly hit an ace upon resumption of play, winning six straight points which included a break of serve.

Williams was dominant in her serving, hitting 18 aces during the 1 hour and 51 minute match. Fifteen of the aces came in the second set.

Williams celebrated prematurely on her third match point, thinking she had hit an ace, when it was a let.. She promptly regrouped.

“I thought after the let, Man, I am not meant to win this tournament,” Willliams said. “I had a couple of match points. I mean, she played great on those match points. She totally went for broke. I was like, C’mon. First of all, why I hear the let. Then I was like, Okay, do I go T? Do I go wide? What am I going to do? Then I just tossed and served as hard as I could.”

 

“I haven’t won against her many times, but if I’m getting to the stage of competing against someone like Serena, I’m doing something well.,” Sharapova said in her post-match interview with the media. “I’m setting up a chance to try to beat her and it hasn’t happened. I’m not just going to go home without giving it another chance. That’s just not who I am and not who I was raised to be. I’m a competitor. If I’m getting to the finals of Grand Slams and setting myself up to play a match against Serena, I mean, I know it sounds — maybe you’re telling me I’m wrong — but I’m happy to be in that position. I love the competition. I love playing against the best, and at the moment she is.”

“Over the last 10 years her and I have been out of the game. Sometimes she was injured for a period of time; I was out for a year. So, yeah, between all of that, between and around it, we’ve been able to play a lot of great matches against other players. I’m proud to be part of an era where she’s in.”

“I’m happy with the way I’ve handled a few of the matches here, how I’ve come back strong, how I’ve set myself up to try to win another major. It’s not easy to get to the final of a Grand Slam. It takes a lot of work. It’s over the course of two weeks. That’s a good achievement. It’s a good start to the year. The year is very young at this point.”

“It feels really good to be sitting here as the champion,” Williams said in her post-match interview. “I definitely didn’t think I would be here in the beginning of the week or the beginning of the two weeks, but it feels pretty excellent.”

“The match definitely got tough in the second set. Maria started playing a lot better. She started being a little more aggressive. I think I got a little more passive. Was just trying to get the ball back in play. But I also started serving better in the second set because I knew if I wasn’t having my groundstrokes where I wanted them to be, I knew I could serve it out. So, yeah, it definitely got really interesting. I had a lot of moments. I had some easy shots that I missed in the second set on her serve, and then she came up with a big serve when she was down a breakpoint, which was great. But I definitely can look back and say, Oh, I could have done a few things better just for the future”

“I’ve been through so much the past week,” the champion continued. “I really, really didn’t expect to win. I didn’t expect to be here this long. I was walking down the hall yesterday and I was thinking, Wow, I’m still in the tournament. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to the final here or the semifinal. It’s been a long time coming. I was just really, really elated to have an opportunity to walk out on the final match.”

Williams’ six Australian titles came in 2003, ’05, ’07, ’09 ’10 and ’15. She defeated Sharapova in ‘07 and ‘15. Sharapova won the title in 2008.

Serena Williams is halfway to another “Serena Slam” having won the 2014 US Open and now the Australian Open. The next major and second leg of the calendar Grand Slam will be the French Open in May.

“When I think about Paris, I don’t think about 20,” Williams said. “I just think about winning there. It’s the one slam I don’t have more than two titles on. I only have two there. Sorry. That and Wimbledon I’ve been struggling. Yeah, so I think, okay, now that I got this under my belt. I’m a little more comfortable with my ranking now. Now I can really move. Like I did so bad last year at Roland Garros, and Wimbledon as well. So those are the two I really have my eye on, because I would like to do better at those. And I know I can do better. I’m not going into it not as number 20, but I want to win Roland Garros.”

 

Share

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.

Share