2015/01/31

“Meet the Press” WTA Style at All-Access Hour at the Mercury Insurance Open

Top Seeds Meet the Media

By Curt Janka

CARLSBAD, California – The top seeds for the 2011 Mercury Insurance Open sat down, answered questions and laughed with the media at the Lacosta Resort  just north of San Diego. The high seeds enjoy a later start at the event so the players were all very relaxed and candid with their answers. In addition to what their goals are for the summer, Tennis Panorama News asked each player if they were planning on entering mixed doubles at the 2012 Olympics.

 

Agnieska Radwanska
The 2010 finalist is back with hopes to go one step further than she did last year. When asked how important the tournaments leading up to the U.S. Open are in preparing for the slam, she said, “I want to win every match. It’s not just to warm up for the Open. There are a lot of points to win between now and then.”

Radwanska says she’s really looking forward to the Olympics and would love to play singles, doubles and mixed if possible, but hasn’t lined up a mixed partner yet. Of course, she’d love to play doubles with her sister, Ursula “if their rankings allow for it at the time.”

She had fun playing golf here last year but noted that because part of the course was under construction, she might not get the chance to swing a club this year.

Ana Ivanovic
Seeded fifth this week, Ivanovic is waiting to play the winner of the match between Jelena Dokic and Ayumi Morita. Morita beat Ivanovic in straight sets last week in Stanford. Asked whether she’d prefer to play Dokic or get another crack at Morita, Ivanovic said emphatically, “Definitely Morita, to get some revenge. That was a hard loss last week.” However, losing early in Stanford did give Ivanovic the opportunity to come down to San Diego early and start training which she thinks will help her at this event. “The conditions down here are very different. It’s hotter and very humid.”

She doesn’t have specific goals in mind for the summer, just to keep trying to execute the things she is working on in practice. “If I do that, the results will come.”

Ivanovic revealed she has also been trying to eliminate gluten from her diet, like compatriot Novak Djokovic. “I try to eat rice before matches and avoid pasta and bread.”

She is excited to be playing with Nenad Zimonjic in mixed doubles at the next Olympics. She’d love to play all three tennis events at the Olympics, but doesn’t know yet whether she’ll play women’s doubles. She will, however, be playing doubles with her friend, Andrea Petkovic, next week.

 

Vera Zvonareva
The top seed says she feels “at home” here in San Diego. She’s played this tournament many times and has some great memories. Asked about the marathon match she played here against Anastasia Myskina in 2004, she said “it seems like yesterday.”

Zvonareva said that because she feels so comfortable here and because of the way the site is set up, she feels like she gets to watch more matches here than at other events. She couldn’t say who she’d like to see play this week, but she’d just “see how the week goes.”

While the Olympics is something Zvonareva is looking forward to, she couldn’t say who she would play mixed doubles with or if she’d even get to play mixed. “That’s up to the captain to decide.” She said she’ll do her best to prepare for singles and hopes to be selected to play doubles or mixed doubles when the time comes.

 

Andrea Petkovic
The second seed is enjoying a great year. Asked what she thinks about Serena Williams coming back from injury to win last week in Stanford, she said “There are two kinds of confidence. Serena was born with it. In my case, I had to work to get the confidence.”

She hasn’t come to San Diego with any new dances. She said she “has to wait for inspiration to hit her. It hasn’t hit yet but it usually does just in time.”

Fellow German, Julia Goerges is a potential quarterfinal opponent and friend. Petkovic says that, along with Sabina Lisicki, the three have a “healthy competitiveness” between them. When one does well, it inspires one of the others to do well. She says it’s always a little awkward to play friends in tournaments, but that is part of being a professional.

Asked who she would like to play mixed doubles with at the Olympics, she smiled and said, “I don’t know yet. I’d have to see all the photos and decide which one is cuter.”

Martina Hingis
Playing in a nearby ProAm event, Martina Hingis stopped by. She was quickly hounded by questions about the reports that she would play mixed doubles with Roger Federer at the Olympics. “No decisions have been made yet” she said. “It’s more up to Roger, but there are a lot of ifs.” She wouldn’t rule it out, but insisted that it most likely wouldn’t happen.

She said while she was encouraged by how well she played against Serena Williams recently in World Team Tennis, but was not making any comeback plans for singles. “Doubles is more on my mind,” she said only when pressed.

Hingis is currently touring the U.S. and Canada promoting clothing by Tonic. She said she approached them after wearing the clothes for yoga and fitness. She has been meeting with the designer at Tonic to provide input on a Martina Hingis branded line of tennis clothes by the company to launch in the Spring of 2012.

Asked if she could give any advice to Caroline Wozniacki, Hingis said “she has to be more in charge” adding that the women’s tour is so deep now that you need a weapon to win the quarters, semis and a final at a Slam.

Curt Janka is covering the Mercury Insurance Open in Carlsbad this week. Follow his updates on twitter at @GVTennisNews. Follow his personal twitter @CurtJanka.

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Kuznetsova Loses Then Finds Her Nerve to Win Mercury Insurance Open Title by Erik Gudris

Kuznetsova Loses Then Finds Her Nerve to Win Mercury Insurance Open Title
by Erik Gudris

Not too many people at the start of this week’s
Mercury Insurance Open in Carlsbad,
California expected much from
Svetlana Kuznetsova who came in as an unseeded player. But as she navigated her
way past several top 20 players on her way to the finals, the feeling was the
title was Kuznetsova’s to win so long as she held her nerve and kept finding
the range on her fearsome forehand. Today in the finals against Agnieszka
Radwanska, it indeed was all up to the Russian as she dictated play for most of
the match. But as expected, when it came down to closing out the match,
Kuznetsova had to battle her nerves just when it seemed victory was inevitable.

In the first set, Kuznetsova continued her hard-hitting form and found
opportunities early into the Radwanska service games as the Russian broke twice
to go up 4-1 early. Kuznetsova served for the set at 5-2 but had a letdown and
gave her service game away at love to let Radwanska back into the set before
Kuznetsova finally closed out the set 6-4 by hitting a forehand winner behind
Radwanska. Kuznetsova continued her steady play in the second set and despite Radwanska’s
best efforts to stay in the rallies, Kuznetsova used her power game at will
while Radwanska’s forays into net were often met with a quick passing shot from
the Russian. Kuznetsova broke again and served for the match at 5-4.

And then that’s when the nerves set in. Kuznetsova’s shots started finding the
net and she soon gave the break back to level things at 5-5. Both players then
held to enter the tiebreak and it was there that Kuznetsova jumped out to 4-0
lead and seemed poised to close it out. Eventually she had 6-3, but Kuznetsova
double faulted then hit two more shaky groundstrokes to give Radwanska a second
chance at 6-6. Radwanska had her own nervy serves as well but finally managed
to put one in that led to Radwanska hitting a short forehand that Kuznetsova
couldn’t chase down giving Radwanska the set.

With many in the crowd rooting for Radwanska and yelling out their support in
Polish, it seemed like the momentum was with the 21-year-old from Krakow. After she went up an early break at 2-1 in the
third set, all seemed lost for Kuznetsova. But it was the Russian who looked calmer
and focused on court as she started stepping in to attack Radwanska’s second
serve and firing off winners at will. Kuznetsova broke back and from there it
was like the second set never happened. Up 5-3, Kuznetsova stepped up to the
line again to serve it out and this time did so with ease as she hit a forehand
winner in the deuce court to take the match 6-4, 6-7(7), 6-3.

Ecstatic with winning her first final of the year, the always candid Kuznetsova
admitted she choked away the second set. “I don’t know why it happened but
here I couldn’t make the ball. I’m happy today that I could play that bad at
the end of the second set and I could start all over in the third set.”
She then added with a laugh, “It’s funny for me now after I win the match
but if I lost that third set I would be like, “Oh my God. Should I finish
playing tennis? It was a disaster. But I will do everything now so it will not
happen again.”

Radwanska herself said Kuznetsova was the better player today but that she had
her own chances to take the match but didn’t. “She (Kuznetsova) played
better and was more consistent and still fighting to the end. I had break
points but I didn’t use them.”

Erik Gudris is the editor of Adjusting the Net and was covering the Mercury Insurance Open for Global Village Tennis News as media. Follow him on twitter @AdjustingTheNet .

Double the twitter pleasure later on this week as we’ll have reporters from both the Western &
Southern Financial Group
Women’s Open in Cincinnati and the Rogers Cup In Toronto.

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Radwanska and Vandeweghe Try To Jump Out As “First Name” Players in San Diego – by Erik Gudris

Radwanska and Vandeweghe Try To Jump Out As “First Name” Players in San Diego
by Erik Gudris

This week, thanks to Global Village Tennis News, I was able to cover thefinal rounds of the Mercury Insurance Open down in Carlsbad, CA. Asidefrom it being a WTA Tour event, it’s been a little different covering atournament from the middle to end instead of starting at day one.Although we are in the final stages where, supposedly, the best actiontakes place, sometimes it feels like I’ve missed out on some the biggerstories earlier this week, like Dinara Safina and Ana Ivanovic stillbeing unable to get a string of wins together in their comebackattempts. But I think yesterday’s action for me proved to be the realstories this week, if nothing else in that it showcased a newcomer and,if you can believe it, a veteran of sorts, who could both findthemselves in the elite tier, not of the top five, but a small group ofplayers that everybody knows on first name basis.

Take for example the impressive run of 18-year-old CoCo Vandeweghe whowent from the qualifying rounds to the quarterfinals, taking outWimbledon finalist Vera Zvonareva before losing yesterday to SvetlanaKuznetsova, Vandeweghe, who lives in the San Diego area, received atremendous amount of local support and looks to be a potential new staron the WTA Tour. Vandeweghe, despite her loss, was already lookingforward to her next tournament in Cincinnati after receiving a wildcardentry there for her efforts this week. If she can climb the ranks asquickly as Melanie Oudin remains to be seen, but her game definitely hasthat potential considering she’s almost a foot taller than Oudin andpossesses a lot of raw power on her forehand and serve. Her last namemight give some fans trouble, but with a first name like “CoCo”, theyoung American definitely has first name star status written all overher.

Meanwhile, with the absence of the Williams sisters or even MariaSharapova, this week’s event has allowed other players to shine thatotherwise tend to get lost in the draw sheets of the major events.Agnieszka Radwanska, long one of the most consistent players on tour, isfinding herself more often in the later rounds of tournaments thisyear. Casual fans that have seen Radwanska play maybe once or twiceprobably expect her to retrieve every ball and not much else. Latelythough, Radwanska continues to show very nice touch and an instinct toclose off points with volley winners at the net. A lot of people likecomparing her to Martina Hingis but when asked herself about thatcomparison, Radwanska, and I think rightly so, doesn’t get it. Radwanskacertainly exhibits Hingis-like qualities but Radwanska’s game is muchmore suited to dealing with the constant bludgeoning many WTA playersgive the ball these days. It’s only Radwanska’s touch that gives her anextra card to play so to speak in tight matches.

Radwanska proved last week in Stanford in her three set loss to MariaSharapova that she can hold her own against the “one-name” players ontour who dominate Grand Slam events and the media’s attention. IfRadwanksa can use her all her talents to find herself in the finalstages of this year’s U.S. Open, she herself could find enter “firstname” status if only for her nickname alone – Aggie.

Erik Gudris is reporting for Global Village Tennis News this weekend at the Mercury Insurance Open. In addition to his articles he'll be tweeting live updates, photos and commentary from our twitter account @GVTennisNews. He is the editor of Adjusting The Net. Find him on twitter @AdjustingTheNet.
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Kuznetsova Shows Grand Slam Form in Beating Pennetta in San Diego by Erik Gudris

Kuznetsova Shows Grand Slam Form in Beating Pennetta in San DiegoBy Erik Gudris

Showing some of the same form that won her two Grand Slam titles, Svetlana Kuznetsova entered her first final of the year after defeating Italy's Flavia Pennetta 6-4, 6-0 in the semifinals of the Mercury Insurance Open. After struggling most of the week, Kuznetsova put on an impressive display especially on her favored forehand side where she was able to hit seemingly winner after winner at will. 

The first set saw both Kuznetsova and Pennetta test each others groundstrokes and service games as they traded early breaks. Pennetta kept up with Kuznetsova's pace in early rallies, but her backhand let her down in key moments specifically when down a break point, Pennetta let a backhand sail wide to give Kuznetsova a 5-3 lead. But the Russian couldn't serve it out dropping her own serve in the next game but finally closed out the first set by breaking Pennetta again when another Pennetta backhand sailed long.

Kuznetsova, who had been missing forehands earlier in the first set, found her range on her favorite weapon in the second set and never looked back. After securing another early break to go up 2-0, Kuznetsova amped up the depth and pace of her shots which Pennetta couldn't handle. The Russian then started hitting forehand winners at will. A forehand return winner gave Kuznetsova a double break lead at 4-0 and two more forehand winners in a row on her next service game gave her a 5-0 lead. At this point, Pennetta was just trying to avoid a bagel set and when facing her first match point against her, Pennetta served an ace and then raised her arms in triumph. Pennetta saved another match point when Kuznetsova netted a return but it wasn't enough as Kuznetsova finally closed out the match on her third match point. 

Kuznetsova, despite getting to her first final this year, still sees room for improvement. "I'm playing better yes but I'm very far from the place I want to be." When asked how she felt when she fell out of the top 20 for the first time since 2003, she talked about how she didn't panic when others around her did. "I was like don't worry I'm working on it. I couldn't change it at that moment. I couldn't rush out and play more tournaments to earn ranking points. I just want to be better and be strong. I don't want to be number 12 or 15 that's not my goal. I want to be higher and know I can do it." 

Kuznetsova didn't express a preference for whom she might face in tomorrow's final which could either be Daniela Hantuchova or Agnieszka Radwanksa who face each other in the other semifinal later tonight. But considering that Kuznetsova's 7-4 lifetime versus Hantuchova and 6-3 lifetime against Radwanska (and remember Kuznetsova won her last title in Beijing over the Polish No. 1) along with the resurgent form she's displaying, Kuznetsova will go into Sunday's final a heavy favorite.
Pennetta, who earned a dismal 44% first serve percentage, blamed her poor
serving for the majority of her problems today. "She was always getting into the
court on the first ball and I was always running and running. It's not my
favorite shot (the serve) of course but when I'm a little bit nervous and when I
know have to play really well then I start to get nervous and then I cannot put
one in."

Erik Gudris is reporting for Global Village Tennis News this weekend at the Mercury
Insurance Open. In addition to his articles he'll be tweeting live updates, photos and
commentary from our twitter account @GVTennisNews. He is the editor of Adjusting The Net. Find him on twitter @AdjustingTheNet.
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Pennetta Upsets Stosur While Kuznetsova Makes First Semi of the Year in San Diego by Erik Gudris

Pennetta Upsets Stosur While Kuznetsova Makes First Semi of the Year in San Diego
by Erik Gudris

The Mercury Insurance Open down in San Diego has certainly not gone
according to form, at least by the draw which has now seen the top two seeds bow
out early while some veteran and young players have made themselves heard. And
while an arm injury is a new cause for concern for Sam Stosur, it’s the return
of Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova to a semifinal for the first time this year
that’s made the biggest news so far today.

Flavia Pennetta continued her now 3-0 winning streak against Stosur with a
convincing 6-3, 6-4 quarterfinal victory. Pennetta never looked rushed by
Stosur’s massive forehand or when the Australian would serve and volley. Instead
it was Stosur who looked frustrated the whole match at not being able to find a
way into the Pennetta service games along with her now trademark kick serve that
didn’t seem to bother Penetta at all.

In her media conference, Stosur was asked about her shoulder that’s been lightly
taped in several matches now. Stosur answered that she’s not dealing with a
shoulder injury but instead a lower arm issue that she’s still not sure what the
cause is. “It’s like a strong ache once it starts and I can’t get rid of it
until once I get off of the court. We’ve haven’t been totally been able to
figure it out yet.” Stosur, who’s had one MRI already and plans to have another
before leaving San Diego, said the pain doesn’t affect any particular shot and
that it’s “definitely not a muscle tear”.

Pennetta will now take on veteran Svetlana Kuznetsova who took out the American
sensation 18-year-old Coco Vandeweghe 7-5, 6-2. Vandeweghe, who took an early
break, jumped out to a 5-2 lead, but seemed to let nerves and the fact that she
was a bit tired from her previous win last night against Vera Zvonareva to allow
Kuznetsova to claw back into the match. Vandeweghe, who held a set point against
Kuznetsova’s serve at 3-5, lost that game and then hit four double faults to let
Kuznetsova back in at 5-4. The Russian held serve for 5-5 and by then it was
Kuznetsova who was winning most of the rallies while Vandeweghe’s backhand broke
down.

After Kuznetsova took the first set 7-5, she started directing more shots to
Vandeweghe’s backhand. Kuznetsova jumped out to a 4-1 lead after breaking
Vandeweghe twice and by then it was the Russian’s match to lose. She didn’t
though as she served it out after another Vandeweghe backhand went long on the
second match point.

Afterward Kuznetsova said that watching Vandeweghe’s match against Zvonareva
helped her since she didn’t know much about the American’s game and at first she
was concerned about the pace of Vandeweghe’s shot. “(It helped) a little bit.
Because if I had not and then I would get bombs, I would be like ‘whoa’ what
should I do here?”

On making her first tour semifinal this year, Kuznetsova took a moment to smile
before answering. “Finally. Thank God I made it to the semis. How many months
has it been eight or nine months? It’s weird for me but I’m very happy to be
here.”

Erik Gudris is reporting for Global Village Tennis News this weekend at the Mercury Insurance Open.
In addition to his articles he’ll be tweeting live updates, photos and commentary from our twitter
account @GVTennisNews. He is the editor of Adjusting The Net. Find him on twitter @AdjustingTheNet.

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