2014/10/26

Venus Williams Falls in Australian Open First Round

Venus Williams

Venus Williams

(January 13, 2014) Seven-time major singles winner Venus Williams fell in the first round of the Australian Open to 22nd seed Ekaterina Makarova on Monday in Margaret Court Arena.

The 33-year-old veteran blew past Makarova in the first set going 3 for 3 in break point opportunities, hitting 15 winners.

The swing to Makarova came at 4-5 in the second set with Williams serving. The American double-faulted three straight times to give the Russian a break and the second set.

Venus Williams opened the third set jumping out to a 3-0 and then her serve began to fail her. Makarova won five consecutive games to take a 5-3 lead. She would close out the match.

Williams was 5- 14 in break point conversions during the match and hit 56 unforced errors.

“I think she played really well, and I think just my level was a little bit too up and down,” Williams said.

“I was hitting the ball well this week, and, you know, obviously it was disappointing to not win the first round.”

“I just really focused on the match and just tried to put the ball in the court and played aggressive,” she said.  “That’s pretty much what I tried to do.

“I totally do want to win tournaments.  It’s fun.  So going into tournaments, that’s always something I hope for.”

Venus said that she’s feeling better. She was diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome back in 2012. “The last 12 months I have had issues, but this year I definitely am looking forward to having a good run and feeling well.”

When asked if she is close to closing the gap between where Williams knows she can play and were she is now, she responded:

“I don’t know.  That’s difficult to say, because I do play really, you know, points really well, and then sometimes I don’t put them together as well.  I feel like I have to be patient with myself, because I really haven’t had a chance to play that consistently.

“So I think I just have to be patient and keep going and just wait for it to keep coming together more and more.”

Overall, Williams is 55-6 in major first round matches, falling in the first round of the Australian Open for just the second time.

Makarova upset Venus’ sister Serena Williams in the fourth round of the 2012 Australian Open.
Makarova will play American Irina Falconi in the second round.

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Kyrgios and Konjuh Win Australian Open Junior Singles Titles

 

By Jaclyn Stacey

(January 26, 2013) MELBOURNE PARK, Australia – Nick Kyrgios has been crowned the 2013 Australian Open Junior Boys’ champion after overpowering good friend and fellow Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis 7-6(4) 6-3 in one hour and 31 minutes on Saturday afternoon at Melbourne Park.

 

“Yeah, obviously I’m really happy with that performance today. I knew that I had to play some really good tennis,” Kyrgios said. “So, yeah, it’s great start on the year.”

 

The two mixed up their play, hitting largely from the baseline but also willing to try a drop shot and come into the net to volley. Both played a largely aggressive offensive game with big groundstroke shotmaking.

 

It was a tight contest in the first set with neither player able to gain an advantage. Kokkinakis had several break point opportunities late in the set but Kyrgios was able to effectively shut them down with his big serve. The set culminated in a tie-break situation as neither player was able to get a lead. Kyrgios got the mini-break in the first point of the tie-break and ran with it, closing out the first set 7-6(4).

 

Kyrgios converted a break point opportunity in the fourth game of the second set to go ahead a set and a break 3-1 against his good friend. Kokkinakis was struggling with a back problem during the match and it looked to be getting to him as time wore on. Kyrgios then picked up his serve in his final game to win the tournament with an ace 7-6(4) 6-3 in the same week he became the ITF world number one junior. He produced 36 winners to Kokkinakis’ 20.

 

Kyrgios said the key to winning today had been to maintain composure and not get caught in the moment. He explained his thoughts on being down break points and set points in the first set: “I was just trying to stay as composed as I could and take my time. I thought I played the big points

well. I didn’t really get angry at myself leading into that point or anything like that.”

 

Kyrgios was asked what he will do to ensure he doesn’t fade into oblivion as many former Junior Australian Open champions have done in the past.

 

“Obviously going to keep working hard, day in, day out. That’s what it’s all about. Keep improving on and of the court. I’m going to try and play a lot more futures and challengers and boost my ATP ranking up as well.”

 

“Obviously I’m going to take a lot of confidence out of this. Still a long way to go, it’s a long journey, anything can happen, but right now I’m really happy. I’m just going to keep working hard.”

 

In the girl’s singles final Croatian number three seed Ana Konjuh signalled herself as a future star in women’s tennis after defeating Czech number two seed Katerina Siniakova 6-3 6-4 in just over one hour.

 

“Well, you know, I feel really great. I won doubles and singles. I’m first time here. Just the feeling is incredible.”

 

Konjuh also won the girls’ doubles title on Friday with Canadian Carol Zhao to cap off an impressive tournament for the young Croatian. The win in the singles will move Konjuh to the top of the ITF Junior rankings from Monday.

 

Konjuh says she’s happy to be the world number one but says her focus for 2013 will be to improve her WTA ranking.

 

“I’m going to play the junior Grand Slams: Roland Garros, Wimbledon, US Open. I’m just going to play 10,000’s, 25’s and 50’s. I just want to go now for WTA ranking.”

 

Konjuh has also been selected to represent Croatia in Fed Cup for the first time and will play alongside Petra Martic, Donna Vekic and Tereza Mrdeza.

 

“No, it’s another great experience. I’m going to get a chance to play with some pro players. I just happy to be there.”

 

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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Li Na Reaches Australian Open Semifinal After Defeating Radwanska

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By Jaclyn Stacey

 

(January 22, 2013) MELBOURNE PARK, Australia - Li Na became the first player through to the Australian Open semifinals on Tuesday at Melbourne Park after she overcame fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska 7-5, 6-3.

 

The first set was a grueling 66 minute encounter in which the women exchanged seven breaks of serve between them. Li claimed the seventh break on set point to lead the encounter 7-5.

 

Li immediately went down a break in the second and Radwanska consolidated with a love game to lead 2-0. She fought back however, winning the next 5 games to lead 5-2 and closed out the match 7-5 6-3.

 

Prior to the match Radwanska had won 13 straight matches to start her 2013 season, including a straight sets win over Li in the semifinals of Sydney. Losing the first set of her quarterfinal seemed to rattle Radwanska and she was unable to stay in the first in the second set.

 

With the win Li returns to the top five in the WTA rankings. Her highest ranking has been a number four.

 

Li said it was a difficult match against a difficult opponent.

 

“You know, she’s a tough player. I was feeling today against a wall, you know. She can hit everywhere, but without a mistake. I was feeling just very tough. You have to focus on every shot. Not every point, every shot. If you hit like slow or like short one, she’ll attack.”

 

Li spoke about her tough off season training schedule with Justine Henin’s former coach Carlos Rodriguez who she has been working with since after Wimbledon last year.

 

“I was with Carlos for two and a half or three weeks in Beijing.  Totally different program, you know.”

 

“He was not – how you say – like every day five, six hours, but not only for tennis. Tennis like maybe two, three hours, but fitness for two, three hours as well.”

 

“So, like, when first time I was training with him I was so exciting, but after three days I was dying. Yeah, because my husband didn’t come with me in Beijing. I call him and say, Carlos is crazy. He was like, Why? I was say the program to him. He was like, Don’t make the joke. I say, Hey, listen, I’m not joke. I really doing this in the morning.”

 

On a potential semifinal clash with Maria Sharapova on Thursday Li said “She’s more aggressive player on the court. Also she’s tough. She’s fighting a lot. Should be tough match. So we can see Thursday, yeah.”

 

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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Flawless Federer into 35th Consecutive Australian Open Quarterfinal

2013 Australian Open - Day 8

By Jaclyn Stacey

(January 21, 2013) MELBOURNE PARK, AustraliaRoger Federer won through to his 35th consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinal after dismissing young Canadian Milos Raonic in straight sets 6-4 7-6(4) 6-2 in 1 hour and 53 minutes on Monday night at the Australian Open.

 

The match was classic flawless Federer in truckloads, Raonic not even able to pierce the maestro with his big serve as Federer managed to get an impressive 60% of returns back into play and made only 12 unforced errors. Federer did not face one single break point on his serve for the duration of the match.

 

Federer won the first set 6-4 by breaking Raonic in the tenth game.

 

The Canadian maintained serve throughout the second set and forced a tie-break which Federer won by gaining an advantage with some stunning points and closing it out on set point with a remarkable forehand winner 7-6(4).

 

In the third set Federer steamrolled to victory, dropping just two games and continuing his mission for a fifth Australian Open title.

 

“I felt good out there. I was moving well, had good anticipation and reaction today, which was key obviously on the return. Like I said, in the third set I started to feel extremely good on the return.”

 

“I played well. I think I played tactically well tonight and was able to keep the points short on my own service games, used the 1-2 punch. That was obviously also a good thing tonight.”

 

Federer could regain the top spot in the rankings if he wins the trophy here this year and Djokovic loses before the semifinals.

 

“Most of the times you play good, you know. When you play very good, that’s rare. So just have to try to have as many good days or great days as you can, and that’s why I push hard in practice and keep myself in shape.”

 

“Tonight was a very solid night, so I’m very happy. If I can maintain such a level of play, obviously I’m happy I give myself a chance of going deep in this tournament, which is obviously the goal.”

 

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s new coaching arrangement with Australian Roger Rasheed is looking to be doing good things for the Frenchman’s game and determination. On Monday Tsonga defeated countryman Richard Gasquet 6-4 3-6 6-3 6-2 for a place in the quarterfinals against Federer.

 

“Yeah, of course, because he’s with me.  He’s giving me an extra motivation.  I mean, it’s great because he’s always positive.  He want maybe more than me to win.  He’s incredible.”

 

“So, you know, I try to be at his level and have exactly the same motivation because I think he can move some mountains, you know, because he’s very motivated.”

 

The Australian Open is the scene of Tsonga’s most successful run at a Grand Slam when he was runner-up to Novak Djokovic in 2008.

 

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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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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Radwanska Cruises Past Ivanovic and Reaches Australian Open Quarterfinals

Radwanska bh

By Jaclyn Stacey

(January 20, 2013) MELBOURNE PARK, Australia – Agnieszka Radwanska won through to the quarterfinals of the Australian Open on Sunday night, demolishing thirteenth seed Ana Ivanovic 6-2, 6-4 in just 70 minutes.

 

With the win, Radwanska extends her consecutive match winning streak to 13 in 2013, and she has yet to drop a set for the season thus far. She won the titles in Auckland and Sydney coming into the Australian Open.

 

“Well, what can I say? I’m just very happy that I can play on the very high level. Already 13 matches not even losing a set. Well, I hope I can keep going three more.”

 

Radwanska made her way to the Wimbledon final in 2012 and lost to Serena Williams but proved she could match it with the top women in the sport. Knowing that she has made a major final before has given her confidence to be able to do it this fortnight at Melbourne Park.

 

“Well, definitely. I think, you know, a major final is a little different final than any other tournament, so it definitely is.”

 

“Of course I have a lot more confidence after two titles that I won last two weeks, so definitely, yes.”

 

Radwanska will play China’s Li Na in the quarterfinals and Radwanska will be confident going into the encounter having beaten Li in Sydney just over a week ago. Li goes into the match leading their head-to-head 5-4 however, and on hard courts that lead stretches to 4-1.

 

“Well, we played so many times in the last couple months. Well, it’s never easy playing against her. She’s very consistent player and moving very well, serving well.”

 

“She’s always playing very solid tennis. I think I really have to play aggressive against her, definitely serving good, really playing my hundred percent the best tennis; otherwise I’m not going to win, for sure.”

 

“Well, for sure I really have to play my hundred percent to beat her.”

 

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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Federer Silences Young Pretender at Australian Open

Roger Federer

By Jaclyn Stacey

(January 19, 2013) MELBOURNE PARK, Australia - Roger Federer silenced trash-talking Australian Bernard Tomic 6-4 7-6(5) 6-1 in the much anticipated third round clash on Rod Laver Arena on Saturday night at the Australian Open.

 

Tomic played well during the encounter but was outclassed by a Master. The telling statistic was unforced errors, the young Australian committing 36 compared to just 20 from the Swiss maestro.

 

I thought it was a good match overall. I thought the intensity was good. We had tough rallies. The crowds were great. So I really enjoyed myself out there.”

 

“So I’m just really pleased that the outcome is what I was hoping for. I’m happy also with my playing. I thought I played really good today. That’s obviously important looking ahead.”

 

In a day attendance record for the tournament of 80,735 patrons, the patriotic crowd was hoping for a big upset from their charge. They urged him on throughout the match but paid due respect to the 17-time Grand Slam champion as he crushed the last remaining Australian hope in the main draw.

 

Federer created 16 break point opportunities in the match, Tomic saving 13 of them as evidence of his improved service games.

 

Federer said he thought Tomic had improved from the last time they had played and expects to see him rise in the rankings over the next couple of years.

 

“He’s obviously played today’s match very differently than he did play the last couple matches I played against him. Yes, I would think so. He has improved. Obviously he played me so different that it’s hard to judge because I’ve never seen him play offensive tennis against me in the past. So now it’s just a matter for him to keep it up. That’s the proof he’s the much improved player.”

 

Federer came to the court ready to play fast aggressive tennis against the young pretender and broke Tomic in the first game of the match. It was the only break he needed and won the first set 6-4.

 

The Australian put the pressure on in the second set and held serve with Federer to force a tie-break. Tomic got the mini-break early in the tie-break but the Fed-Express came back and rallied to win it 7-6(5).

 

In the third set Federer got the break early and ran with it, closing out the match 6-4 7-6(5) 6-1 and moving through to a fourth round meeting with big serving Canadian Milos Raonic.

 

“He’s obviously got one of the best serves in the game. Up-and-coming. So you always feel, especially after an off-season like the one we’ve just had, he’s maybe improved again a few

things or he’s worked on a few things. So you would expect maybe some more unexpected stuff that he didn’t do last time around. We’ll see how it goes. I’m excited about the match anyhow.”

 

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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Serena Williams Moves Past Morita into Round of 16 at Australian Open

SerenaWilliams2EnduraCool

 

(January 19, 2013) Serena Williams won the last six games of her match to stop Japan’s Ayumi Morita 6-1, 6-3 in the third round of the Australian Open.

 

The veteran 31-year-old American, who is looking for a sixth title at Melbourne Park and a third consecutive major title, was 3-0 down in the second set  to No. 72 Morita after suffering her first service break of the tournament before surging to win six games in a row.

 

Williams almost set a record by hitting a 129 mph serve. Williams hit 9 aces and 29 winners.

 

“I tried to hit it really hard,” said Williams talking about her serve. “ I hit 207 (kph) the other day and I thought it was luck. But I did it again and I was like whew! I’m going to try to go for 210. We’ll see.

 

“I thought she played really well, “Williams said of her opponent. “She played at a level higher than I expected so it took me off guard.  She was just consistent, really consistent.”

 

Williams discussed how she fells going into the second week of the tournament:

“I feel today was actually a really good match for me.  I was involved in a lot of longer points, something I definitely wanted.

I feel good.  I hope I can keep this level up and go higher.

 

She’ll play her fourth-round match against Maria Kirilenko, who beat Yanina Wickmeyer earlier Saturday.

 

“My job is to do the best I can, “Williams said of the match-up.   “Maria is playing consistent tennis, especially the past 16, 18 months, she’s been so consistent.  So my goal is just to be really focused against such a player that’s doing so well.”

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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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Radwanska Rolls into Australian Open Round of 16

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By Jaclyn Stacey

 

(January 18, 2013) MELBOURNE PARK,  Australia – Fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska won through to the fourth round of the Australian Open defeating Britain’s Heather Watson 6-3, 6-1 in one hour and 24 minutes on day five at the Open.

 

The Pole has won 12 straight matches in 2013 after claiming the titles in Auckland and Sydney before winning her first three rounds at the Australian Open. She has also yet to drop a set this season.

 

Radwanska broke Watson in the fifth and seventh games of the first set to take a 5-2 lead. She was then broken by Watson while attempting to serve out the set and only managed to seal it 6-3 when she again broke Watson in the next game.

 

Watson was holding her own against Radwanska but the Pole played a great defensive game, continuously getting the ball back in play and wearing down her opponent into making the error.

 

After receiving medical treatment on a bleeding finger between sets, Radwanska stepped it up in the second set, allowing her opponent just one game on her way to victory 6-3 6-1.

 

“I think I was really solid from the beginning, trying to be focused. Especially in the beginning of the first set I was really tight, and I think that game when I was serving when it was 2-1, I think it was really important game.”

 

“I think then I start to play better, and of course in the second set I was trying to, you know, to start good as well and not to lose my focus.”

 

Radwanska puts her excellent form down to confidence and good preparation over the off season.

 

“Of course, I was practicing hard in the offseason, a lot of fitness. But just feeling good on court.  I’m very confident from the beginning and just happy that I can play really my best tennis from the beginning of the year.”

 

Radwanska will be looking to move past the quarterfinals of the Australian Open for the first time and will play Ana Ivanovic who triumphed in the all Serbian encounter on Hisense Arena 7-5, 6-3.

 

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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