November 26, 2015

Sharapova and Bouchard Move into Australian Open Second Round

(January 19, 2015) Second seed Maria Sharapova followed up her recent title in Brisbane with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Petra Martic in the last match of the night session in Rod Laver Arena.

“I had a great start in Brisbane winning the title for the first time in my career – that was great to have those matches coming into such a big match in Melbourne,” she said.

“I played a few night matches in Brisbane with the roof. It was a little cooler out there. Overall the courts have been playing a little faster. Tonight was a little heavier. But I played an opponent that’s capable of playing very good tennis. She’s been injured a little bit I believe in the last year or so, but she can play. She’s got some, you know, big weapons. For a first round against someone that’s already played a few matches, I knew I had to be really strong from the beginning.”


Seventh seed Eugenie Bouchard began her campaign for her first major beating Anna-Lena Friedsam of Germany 6-2, 6-4 on Monday in the first round of the Australian Open.

“I think the first round is always tough, especially at the beginning of the season,” said Bouchard. “So I’m happy I was able to stay pretty solid. I think she played pretty well. That’s something I guess I have to expect. Now often players will kind of go for it and play a really good level against me. Yeah, I’m happy I stayed calm out there and pretty solid.”

“I was just kind of focused on every point,” Bouchard continued. “It was definitely kind of a tougher back-and-forth battle in the second. But I just stayed calm and I knew once I got a chance I would try to take it, and that’s what I did at the end of the second. I had to kind of weather the storm a little bit when she’d serve well or go for her shots. A couple times she could string together a couple good points.”

Monday saw eight seeded women’s players fall including No. 5 Ana Ivanovic.

19-31 JANUARY, 2015

Results – Monday, January 19, 2015
Singles – First Round
(2) Maria Sharapova (RUS) d. (Q) Petra Martic (CRO) 64 61
(3) Simona Halep (ROU) d. Karin Knapp (ITA) 63 62
(Q) Lucie Hradecka  (CZE) d. (5) Ana Ivanovic (SRB) 16 63 62
(7) Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) d. Anna-Lena Friedsam (GER) 62 64
Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU) d. (9) Angelique Kerber (GER) 64 06 61
(10) Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) d. An-Sophie Mestach (BEL) 62 62
(14) Sara Errani (ITA) d. Grace Min (USA) 61 60
Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ) d. (16) Lucie Safarova (CZE) 64 26 86
Carina Witthoeft (GER) d. (17) Carla Suárez Navarro (ESP)63 61
(21) Peng Shuai (CHN) d. (Q) Tatjana Maria (GER) 64 75
(22) Karolina Pliskova (CZE) d. (Q) Evgeniya Rodina (RUS) 75 61
Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) d. (23) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 46 63 63
Caroline Garcia (FRA) d. (27) Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) 64 62
Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) d. (28) Sabine Lisicki (GER) 46 64 62
(31) Zarina Diyas (KAZ) d. (Q) Urszula Radwanska (POL) 36 64 62
Julia Goerges (GER) d. (32) Belinda Bencic (SUI) 62 61
Roberta Vinci (ITA) d. Bojana Jovanovski (SRB) 75 61
Klara Koukalova (CZE) d. (WC) Storm Sanders (AUS) 75 64
Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK) d. Ana Konjuh (CRO) 64 64
Christina McHale (USA) d. (Q) Stéphanie Foretz (FRA) 64 16 1210
Monica Puig (PUR) d. (WC) Arina Rodionova (AUS) 60 63
Jarmila Gajdosova (AUS) d. Alexandra Dulgheru (ROU) 63 64
Sílvia Soler-Espinosa (ESP) d. Annika Beck (GER) 75 64
Kiki Bertens (NED) d. (WC) Daria Gavrilova (AUS) 76(8) 57 62
Anna Schmiedlova  (SVK) d. Chanelle Scheepers (RSA) 64 46 62
Katerina Siniakova (CZE) d. Elena Vesnina (RUS) 62 75
Polona Hercog (SLO) d. Wang Qiang (CHN) 36 63 62
Lara Arruabarrena (ESP) d. (Q) Renata Voracova (CZE) 61 62
Stefanie Voegele  (SUI d. Pauline Parmentier (FRA) 61 36 62
Bethanie Mattek-Sands  (USA) d. (WC) Duan Ying-Ying (CHN) 64 36 63
(Q) Alexandra Panova (RUS) d. Sorana Cirstea (ROU) 75 60
(WC) Oceane Dodin (FRA) d. Alison Riske (USA) 76(5) 36 63


Radwanska Ends Defending Champ Azarenka’s run at Australian Open


(January 22, 2014) Agnieszka Radwanska ended Victoria Azarenka‘s run at a third straight Australian Open title on Wednesday when the fifth seed knocked out the defending champ 6-1, 5-7, 6-0. The victory for Radwanska moves her into her first Australian Open semifinal.

With defending champion Novak Djokovic knocked out of the tournament by Stanislas Wawrinka with both he and Victoria Azarenka losing in the quarterfinals it is the first time both the defending champions have lost in the quarterfinals at the Australian Open in the Open Era.

The last time the two defending champions lost in the quarterfinals at any Grand Slam in the Open Era was at 1997 Roland Garros when 1996 champions Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Steffi Graf lost in the last eight.

The win snapped Azarenka’s 18-match win streak in Melbourne. It also ended Radwanska’s 7 match losing streak to the Belarusian dating back to 2011 and her three consecutive quarterfinal losses at the Australian Open. It was just the Polish women’s fourth win against Azarenka in 16 attempts.

“I think it’s hard to play someone I lost so many times before,” Radwanska said.  “I knew she’s great player.  Especially here, she’s playing amazing tennis.

“On the other hand, I really have nothing to lose.  She was defending the title, not me.  I was really trying to play my best tennis, go for every shot I could.

“You know, I’m just very happy because I really was playing great tennis.”

Radwanska used an all-court game – at times scrambling for every shot to playing finesse tennis to confuse and dismantle a usually hard-hitting Azarenka.

“I think it’s hard to talk about the game plan against someone that can do everything on court,” said the Pole.  “Pretty much everything is going back.  Not really much mistakes.  So I think I was just trying to play aggressive, not in the middle.  I think focus on the serves as well.

“I think you really have to do everything to beat those kind of players like Vika.”

“A lot of good rallies definitely,” she continued, “amazing points, and running forward, backwards, side to side for so many times.

“Well, I was really feeling good on court today.  I think, you know, I was feeling I could really do everything, trying and fighting for every point, every ball.”

“The first set and the third set, I think there was just too many mistakes and too many easy mistakes on important moments,” said Azarenka.  “Like from the dropshot to the dropshot, or just I had the full court.  Of course, she was passing amazing today and getting to every ball.

“But I just didn’t have the focus on finishing the point so accurate.  That definitely changed the momentum.  She really took advantage of that.  It was hard to come back.

“But, I don’t know, my game wasn’t there today as I wanted it to.  But she definitely played really well.”

“She was aggressive,” the world No. 2 said.  “She was making everything.  She was guessing right.  I was just playing a little bit too predictive, you know.

“In the second set I managed to fight back.  Third set, you know, the first game was important.  I let it go, like easily let it go.  From there just couldn’t get back to it.  It was tough.”

In an upset-ridden Australian Open in which the top three women’s seeds – Serena Williams, Azarenka and Maria Sharapova, have all been ousted by the quarterfinals, there will be a first-time winner in Melbourne among the remaining women. The semifinal line-up: Radwanska against No. 20 Dominika Cibulkova and No. 4 Li Na against Canadian Eugenie Bouchard.

“I’m so happy and pleased, especially that I beat one of the best players in the world, Radwanska said.  “Was not easy draw, not easy quarterfinal.

“I’m very happy that I made my first semifinal here.

I think every semifinal, every final is a huge experience with tennis.  Those experience I just had from Wimbledon.  Of course, I’m just very happy, you know, to reach the semifinal at other Grand Slam.

“So I think this is the level everybody playing great tennis.  Well, it’s a bit more pressure.  This is the semifinal of a Grand Slam.  Especially here, first time for me.

“Hopefully I will play the same tennis as today.”

Radwanska said that her match-up against Cibulkova next,  will be a challenging one, since she been playing against since she was 9 or ten:

“I think it’s always tricky to play someone that you know for so long, play so many times, as well.  Like I’m saying, every match is a different story, especially when it’s a semifinal of a Grand Slam, the first semis for me and for her as well.  Well, we’ll see.”



Murray Advances Easily, Seed Killers From Wednesday Fall on Friday


(June 28, 2013) No. 2 seed and 2012 London Olympic champion Andy Murray continued his straight sets streak by defeating Tommy Robredo 6-2, 6-4, 7-5 to reach the fourth round under a closed roof at Wimbledon on Friday.

Meanwhile, two days ago several former No. 1 players fell, and most of the conquerors could not back up their dramatic upsets.

Murray is aiming to become the first man from Great Britain to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936. He spoke about the pressure on him with so many top seeds out including  Roger Federer who was in his half of the draw.

“I think there’s a lot more pressure on me now with them being out,” Murray said.  “I mean, I don’t read the papers and stuff.  But there are papers in the locker room, so you see some of the headlines and stuff.  It’s not that helpful,” Murray said smiling.

“But, yeah, you need to be professional enough to not let that stuff bother you and just concentrate on each match.  I think I did a good job of that today.  I played well, my best match of the tournament so far. “

As for those players who contributed to all of the upsets on Wimbledon’s Wild Wednesday:

No. 116 Sergiy Stakhovsky who took out seven-time champion Roger Federer lost to No. 37 Jurgen Melzer 6-2, 2-6, 7-5, 6-3.

“If someone would ask me, Would you rather beat Roger and lose in next round, I would always take it, obviously, “ Stakhovsky said.

“I’m just a little disappointed that I got so blinded by the game I produced with Roger that I kept going with the same game I played against Jurgen, which was just not right.  If I would be just a bit more smarter on that court, I could have been a winner today, I think.”

“I would say I could possibly be not prepared only mentally, because everybody expects or you expect yourself to play better after you beat Roger.  And the only thing you don’t want to happen is to lose next round.  It’s actually what happened, because you’re trying to avoid it, it always come to you.”

Michelle Larcher de Brito who took out Maria Sharapova, was taken down by No. 104 Karin Knapp.

“It was a fantastic win, obviously,” Larcher de Brito said. “It gave me an incredible amount of confidence and it proved to myself that, yeah, I can be there.”

Reigning Junior champion Eugenie Bouchard who dismissed Ana Ivanovic on Wednesday, was shown the door by 19th seed Carla Suarez Navarro 7-5, 6-2.

“Well, for sure it went differently than I hoped,” said the young Canadian.  “She definitely played really well, I thought.  She was very consistent.  She was being aggressive ‑ more aggressive than me ‑ so she was controlling the points.  I think I could have ‑ should have ‑ done more to try to control the points.  Instead she did.”

Bouchard spoke about the difficulty coming off the high from her victory Ivanovic. “I think that was in the back of my mind, yeah.  It’s a totally different situation:  Not on Centre Court, not against a big, big player.

But I knew that ahead of time.  I tried to prepare like it was just another match, which it was.  It was still on a nice court.

“But, yeah, I just think I didn’t play as well as I know I can.”

Dustin Brown who stunned Lleyton Hewitt, los to Adrin Mannarino 6‑4, 6‑2, 7‑5.

“I go out there and try to play my tennis as best as possible,” Brown said.

“Today didn’t work out as well as I would have liked it to.  I played Adrian a month ago.  It was a little similar match.  A little faster.  Both of us held serves.  Especially on the outside it’s really difficult to return a serve.  Most of the time you’re guessing, which also gives him no pressure on the deuce side, because even if he loses a point there, I find it very difficult to return the serve especially on the ad side.

“So he’s playing free.  He came up with a lot of good returns right in front of my feet.  Couldn’t pick them up.”

“Of course, I’m sad that I lost,” Brown said “On the other side, it’s been a great week also.  I shouldn’t forget that.  When I came here, I was in the quallies, I thought, I lost two rounds in qualifying in Nottingham, what am I expecting to do here?  If someone would have told me from the beginning, Sign here, you get the third‑round prize money and points and you are going to win five matches, I would have taken the deal.”

According to the International Tennis Federation this fortnight at Wimbledon had the worst performance by the men’s and women’s top 10 seeds. A total of only 10 of the top seeds – 6 men and 4 women had reached the third round of The Championships.

It is the joint-worst performance by Top 10 seeds at any Grand Slam event in the Open Era. The previous fewest women’s Top 10 seeds to reach the third round at a major was 5 seeds at 2001 Roland Garros. The previous fewest women’s Top 10 seeds to reach the third round at Wimbledon was 6 seeds in 1996 and 2000.


Serena Williams Gives a Response to Maria Sharapova’s Comments


Serena Williams

(June 23, 2013)

Serena Williams was inundated with questions in her Wimbledon pre-tournament news conference on Sunday about Maria Sharapova’s razor-sharp comments in reaction to Williams’ quotes in a recent Rolling Stone magazine.

On Saturday Maria Sharapova took aim at Serena Williams in regard to a recent Rolling Stone article where the author Stephen Rodrick did an extensive interview with the world No. 1.  Rodrick made an assumption that certain comments made by Williams about an unnamed player were about Sharapova.

When asked about the article Sharapova said: “Obviously I have a tremendous amount of respect for Serena and what she’s achieved on the court.  You can never take anything away from that.

“I was definitely sad to hear what she had to say about the whole case.

“As for myself, or whether it was about somebody else, nothing personal, you know.  We’ve talked to Serena many times, and I know everyone tries to create rivalries between us here and there.

“At the end of the day, we have a tremendous amount of respect for what we do on the court.  I just think she should be talking about her accomplishments, her achievements, rather than everything else that’s just getting attention and controversy.

“If she wants to talk about something personal, maybe she should talk about her relationship and her boyfriend that was married and is getting a divorce and has kids.  Talk about other things, but not draw attention to other things.  She has so much in her life, many positives, and I think that’s what it should be about.”

Maria Sharapova Takes Verbal Shot at Serena Williams in Regard to Recent Rolling Stone Article

Williams told media that she approached Sharapova at the Wimbledon players’ party to apology.

“I personally talked to Maria at the player party, incidentally,” said the world No. 1.

“I said, Look, I want to personally apologize to you if you are offended by being brought into my situation.  I want to take this moment to just pour myself, be open, say I’m very sorry for this whole situation.”

Asked to give a reaction to Sharapova’s comments made on Saturday, Williams said: “I definitely was told of the comments.  I definitely like to keep my personal life personal.  I think it would be inappropriate for me to comment on it.

“But, yeah, I’ve always, in the past ‑ you guys have known ‑ I’ve kept my personal and professional life very private.  I’m going to continue to do that.”

Defending champion Williams is coming into London with a 74-3 record since 2012 Wimbledon when she began to work with French coach Patrick Mouratoglou to whom she has been rumored to be linked with romantically.

Williams begins defense of her title on Tuesday when she takes on Mandy Minella.

Related article:

UPDATE – Serena Williams Comments on Steubenville Rape Case in Rolling Stone Interview; Apologizes, Issues Statement


Serena Williams Makes It Sweet 16

Serena Williams Day 2 Press Conference

By Ros Satar


(June 8, 2013) PARIS – How does Maria Sharapova solve a problem like Serena?


The answer is she doesn’t, at least not today as the head-to-head between them grew to 14-2, when Serena Williams regained the title she won back in 2002 6-4, 6-4.


It perhaps feels uncharitable to say that there was an air of inevitability around this final.


After all, the numbers do not lie and at best people wanted the match to be competitive at least, especially those who remember the London 2012 Olympic Final.


It is always a challenge to defend a title and Maria Sharapova certainly made her intentions clear at the start of the match, gritting her way to defending four breakpoints, before breaking Williams in the next game.


But of course, the world No. 1 was not standing for that – with the first set a bizarre see-saw of breaks and clutch points and “come-on’s” from them both.


If Sharapova was going to make her claim to defend her crown, it really had to be here to put Williams under pressure from the start.


You just had the feeling, though, that it was taking every ounce of effort from Sharapova to stay in contention, so it was no surprise when Williams served out for the first set, having nudged ahead again.


The second set started in much the same way, with a long protracted hold and the saving of many break points (again) from Sharapova.


Even though it came down to a single break at the start of the second set, Sharapova never stopped fighting, but Williams stepped up a gear, firing down three aces to start and finish the last game, and with it gaining her second Roland-Garros title, and her 16th Grand Slam title.


She now holds the most slam titles of any active player, and the sixth of all time, as well as becoming the oldest woman to win a Grand Slam in the Open Era – it may be impolite to refer to a lady’s age but just for the record, it’s 31 years, 256 days by the tournament end date.


Having nothing to defend here after her first round loss was a key for Williams today.


“I played so well leading up to the French Open last year ‑ and same thing happened again this year ‑ but I didn’t put any pressure on myself,” Wiliams said.


Sharapova had pointed out that Williams was serving harder that tomorrow’s finalist David Ferrer.


“I think growing up with Venus, you know, she’s serving so big, I was like, I want to serve big, too,” she said.


“So I think this definitely really helped me a lot.  Again, I am not the tallest girl on tour, but I definitely think I use my height in a very effective way, and I use it to the fullest of my ability.”


Seated alongside the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen, Williams admitted her had been very nervous in serving for the match.


“I thought, I’m not going to be able to hit groundstrokes.  (Laughter.)

“No joke.  As you see the one groundstroke I did hit went like 100 feet out.


“I thought to myself, Look, Serena, you’ve just got to hit aces.  That’s your only choice.”


Of course having been on the receiving end of those, it was an obviously reflective Sharapova who faced the press later.


“I think getting to the Roland-Garros final is not too shabby, so I’d say that’s a positive.  Coming back as a defending champion, I know it’s never easy to come back with that title, so I’m happy that I was able to produce good tennis within these last two weeks and come to that stage.”


To reverse a trend of losses against Williams dating back to 2004 is obviously a work in progress (to put it mildly), but today showed that Sharapova could go toe-to-toe with her.


“Some of the results against her last year were not so good.  But the match in Miami and the match here, I think I’m doing a few more right things than maybe I have done in the past, yet obviously not consistent enough.”


We are only half way through the season, with Wimbledon coming up, so Sharapova could at least look ahead.


“It’s always the one that I always want to perform well at and the one that I always look forward to.


“It’s not like I really need someone to give me motivation towards that.”


If age is just a number now to Serena, and a new number was reached today (16 Grand Slam titles), then does she have her eye on the next prize?


“If it means I stop at 16 or if it means I have more, I definitely want to continue my journey to get a few more.”


Roll on Wimbledon and the US Open.



Sharapova Completes Rain-Delayed Victory over Bouchard

Maria Sharapova

By Ros Satar


(May 31, 2013) PARIS – Fans who braved the constant downpour were unlucky not enough to see the completion of No. 2 seed Maria Sharapova’s match against Canadian teen Eugenie Bouchard at Roland Garros on Friday.


Bouchard held her opening serve, but from then on it was one-way traffic in the first set, before rain stopped play with Sharapova leading 4-1.


With a restart under diminishing light, around 8pm CET, Sharapova found herself defending break points in both her games, before finally taking the first set.


The second set saw Bouchard get the first break, only for there to be two more in succession.


As the rain started to fall yet again on the late evening crowd, Sharapova showed absolutely no signs of wanting to come off, as Bouchard appealed to the umpire to come down from his sheltered canopy and see the conditions for himself.


With the Canadian serving at 2-4 Adv-40, the play was finally suspended for the day – with Sharapova looking none too happy.


The restart today was quick with Bouchard holding the game left in the balance, the night before.


However, Sharapova delivered the final coup-de-grace, breaking the teenager to advance into the third round 6-2, 6-4, where she will meet Zheng Jie.


Sharapova had to admit that despite wanting to stay out last night to finish the remaining games, it really was not an option.


“Well, at 8:45, I think when it was still raining, it was pretty tough to continue.


“Overall I was just happy that I finished the match and on to the next round.”




Sharapova Defends Stuttgart Title with Victory Over Li Na

Sharapova Porsche

By Tumaini Carayol

(April 28, 2013) STUTTGART – Maria Sharapova arrived in Stuttgart as merely the defeNding champion. One Porsche mega-deal later, the Russian had almost assumed home-crowd support as fans and staff alike cheered the Russian on passionately throughout the week.


After her perilous struggles in the rounds before, Sharapova saved her most impressive victory for last, showcasing a performance of the highest quality to refuse Li Na her title 6-4, 6-3. The Russian struck the ball cleanly and with precision, while her movement improved dramatically overnight as she closed out the match in two impressive sets.


“I definitely thought it would be the toughest match of the tournament because, you know, she’s the second seed and someone I lost to last time I played against her,” she said.


“Probably because I knew she’d be the freshest of both of us. I tried to do the right things from the beginning and not have a let-down like I did in the other matches. I’m extremely happy that I pulled through.”


Sharapova’s afternoon was most succinctly summed up by a break point in set two. Chasing from side to side, the Russian found herself on the back foot as Li attempted to dominate. Eventually she stretched for a last-ditch left-handed forehand which barely trickled over, but as the Chinese number one attempted to put away the weak reply, Sharapova had already begun sprinting back to her forehand side, into the open court. A stunning on-the-run forehand down the line passing shot followed as she wrestled the break from her opponent’s grasp and hammered the final nail into the coffin that held Li Na’s title hopes.


“I think the main thing (in the earlier rounds) is the way that I fought,” said Sharapova later. “The way I came back from being down from, you know winning the first set.


“Losing the second could have been tough and easy to let the third set go but I kept fighting to give myself a chance to get into the next round. And then I played my best tennis today. So no matter how difficult those matches were, no matter how tired I was.”


On the question of pressure after recording a breathtaking 20th straight victory on red clay, Sharapova showcased a relaxed outlook to her outstanding previous 12 months on the red dirt.


“It’s more exciting. I really feel like I deserve to be in that position where I’m considered one of favorites because I needed to work to be in this position for many years. I’ve worked on getting stronger. I’ve worked on getting patient. I’ve worked on getting my game to adapt a little more on clay. There’s a reason why I’ve got myself there. It didn’t take a day, it didn’t take months, it took many years.


It remains difficult to name the players who will figure as the top favorites for Roland Garros as the second Grand Slam draws ever-nearer, but if one thing is for sure, it’s that Sharapova will top them all.