2014/10/24

WTA Finals race to the semifinals heats up; Halep first through

By Stephanie Neppl

(October 23, 2014) SINGAPORE – With three round robin singles matches on tap for Thursday, it was a full-day of at action at the 2014 WTA Finals in Singapore.
[6] Agniezska Radwanska (Poland) vs [8] Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark)

Wozniacki battled her good friend Radwanska and ended on the good side of a hard-fought 7-5, 6-3 match. Radwanska struck early, going up 2-0, but the pair traded breaks back and forth in the first set, and the crowd was treated to many long rallies and crafty play, especially by Radwanska.

The Pole led 3-1, but Wozniacki was able to pull even at 3-3 and the two held serve until the Dane was able to get a break at 5-5. The quality of play got better as the set progressed with Radwanka’s ability to place the ball paired against Wozniack’s great defense. At 5-5, Wozniacki got more aggressive on her returns and was able to break and she held her own serve at 6-5 to take the first set.

In the second set, Radwanska’s groundstrokes continued to let her down, and it was Wozniacki who broke at 3-3 and won the final three games to secure a second round robin win.

“I think it was really tough match overall,” Wozniacki said after the match. “I just kept fighting for every point. There was some ridiculous shot making there at times.”

Radwanska agreed that the crowd witnessed some great tennis, but said for her it was not enough. “Well, I think of course it was couple of amazing rallies and of course couple amazing shots as well. But just not enough, I guess, in that match. I think those shots and the other shots, it all makes good match. But I think I think I just needed some more good serves as well in that match.”

[2] Maria Sharapova (Russia) vs [3] Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic)
After both losing their opening matches, Sharapova and Kvitova met with a lot on the line for each to stay in contention for the semifinals. Sharapova had won the past five matches against the Czech, who had last beaten the Russian back in the 2011 Wimbledon final.

It seemed that trend would continue as a pumped up Sharapova broke to start the match as Kvitova was missing her shots.

But in the blink of an eye, Kvitova took over the match. She reeled off five straight games and threatened to hand Sharapova a moral bagel. Down 5-2, Sharapova finally held serve but she could not contain Kvitova’s huge serving as she closed out the first set, 6-3.

In the second set, the crowd waited for Sharapova to find her way back in the match, but Kvitova hit winner after winner. Up 5-0 and serving for the match, Sharapova broke her opponent to deny a bagel set, but down 1-5 Sharapova she would face two match points. Kvitova missed her return on both points, and the Russian held on for a second game in the set. But it wasn’t enough, and Kvitova closed out the match on her second try, 6-3, 6-2.

Kvitova admitted later in her news conference that she was “tired and sick of tennis for a moment” after her loss to Radwanska earlier in the week. “So I didn’t practice today as all and I just really relaxed and clean my mind a little bit. I knew that I have a game to beat Maria. So everything what I did today was really good, and I’m glad that I beat her and I have still a chance to go in semifinal.”

Sharapova said that she didn’t feel as sharp in the match as she has against Kvitova in the past. “She served really well. Not fast, but found her spots really well,’ she said. “But I just don’t feel that I reacted as well in her bigger shots. She’s someone that likes to play aggressive and hit the ball, and very deep as well. She countered my shots extremely well and I was just never ready for the next ball. That made it quite difficult for me.”

To advance to the semifinals, Sharapova’s only hope is to win straight sets as well as Wozniacki winning in straight sets.

[1] Serena Williams (USA) vs [5] Eugenie Bouchard (Canada)

With every game counting toward Williams’ race to advance to the semifinals and try to hold onto her #1 ranking, she faced Bouchard for the first time since 2013 Cincinnati 2012, when the American battled for a three-set win in their only previous match.

Bouchard has had a standout season, but since reaching the Wimbledon final her record was a lowly 8-8 leading into her final round-robin match.

Williams was coming off her worst loss since 1998, and she put memories of that match behind her with a convincing 6-1, 6-1 win over Bouchard. The Canadian quickly went down 0-40 in her first service game but would hold. From then, Williams was far too strong and she won 11 straight games before Bouchard knew what hit her. She could save face by holding serve to get on the board in the second set, but Williams served out the match in her first try for the 58-minute victory.

The world No. 1 said she had to get over her 6-0, 6-2 loss to Halep on Wednesday in order to be ready for today’s match. “I was really disappointed in my play yesterday. I tried, but it didn’t work out for me. I don’t really recover well from losses, but I had a really long talk with Patrick. He just was, you know, telling me what I needed to do and how to get over it.”

The loss to Williams meant an end to Bouchard’s season, and she said she enjoyed the experience in Singapore despite her 0-3 record. “Yeah, it’s been fun. Definitely a unique experience compared to any other tournament, one I would love to come back it in the future. Definitely disappointed with my play this whole week, but I feel like I can do so much better. That’s a positive I can take out of it as well.”

Williams must await the result of the Simona Halep and Ana Ivanovic’s match to see whether or not she will advance to the semifinals.

But the world No. 1 said her fate actually rests on herself. “If I wanted to win and be a part of the event, I should have won my match yesterday or should have done better,” she said. “So whatever happens, happens at this time. I did the best that I could do this week. I should have thought about that sooner.”

2014 WTA Finals Scenarios

Friday is the final day of round robin play in singles, and the last first round doubles match will take place at night following singles.

ORDER OF PLAY – FRIDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2014
CENTRE COURT start 1:30 pm
[2] Maria Sharapova (Russia) vs [6] Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland)
[3] Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic) vs [8] Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark)

Not Before 7:30 pm
[4] Simona Halep (Romania) vs [7] Ana Ivanovic (Serbia)
[1] Sara Errani (Italy) / Roberta Vinci (Italy) vs Kveta Peschke (Czech Republic) / Katarina Srebotnik (Slovenia)

Stephanie Neppl is in Singapore covering the WTA Finals for Tennis Panorama News. She spends all her spare funds traveling to tennis tournaments and has played since her teen years. Follow her live updates on Twitter at @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal Twitter @stephintheus and her blog  http://ihaveatennisaddiction.blogspot.com.

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Williams and Halep victorious on Day 1 at the WTA Finals

wtafinals

By Stephanie Neppl

(October 20, 2014) SINGAPORE – With the top eight WTA players in the world taking center stage in Singapore at the WTA Finals, there’s no such thing as an easy match. But the tournament certainly started off with a bang as top seed and two-time defending champion Serena Williams took on Ana Ivanovic Monday night.

The debut match of the tournament was greeted by a boisterous, enthusiastic crowd. Following an opening ceremony that featured WTA Finals ambassador Li Na serving the ceremonial first serve of the event (donning high heels no less), the crowd roared as Williams and Ivanovic took to the court.

The Serbian, back in the WTA Finals for the first time since 2008, dealt Williams her first grand-slam blow of 2014 at the Australian Open with a 4th round win. Since then, the two have played three more times, with the American coming out on top but two of the three battles went deep into third sets before Williams prevailed.

Ivanovic has had one of her best seasons on tour this year, and her return to the Top 10 was accompanied by four titles and 56 total wins, the best on tour.

Heading into the match, Williams boasted a 15-match winning streak at this event. With concerns about her left knee hanging overhead, the world No. 1 faced a pair of break points in her opening service game, but saved both with aces. After a tough hold to start, Williams settled in and quickly took a 4-1 lead as Ivanovic struggled with her serve.

But after holding for 2-4, Ivanovic broke Williams at love, and then leveled the match at 4-4. An energetic crowd watched as the Serbian had a break point that would give her a chance to serve for the first set, but Williams held on. Serving to stay in the set, Ivanovic threw in two double faults, including one down set point, and Williams broke for a 6-4 lead.

Ivanovic immediately broke the Williams serve in the second set, partially due to two double faults by Williams, but she was broken straight back. Each player then held serve until 5-4, when Ivanovic served to stay in the match. Just as in the first set, Ivanovic could not withstand the pressure and she was broken to give Williams the 6-4, 6-4 win and her 16th straight WTA Finals match victory.

Ivanovic was plagued by double faults all night, and she tossed in seven during the match and said later she felt she was rushing her serve. “She was putting a lot of pressure on my serve,” Ivanovic said. “She served really well today I thought and created more pressure on my service game. I didn’t feel my rhythm, so I was trying to make more first serves.”

Williams’ serve, on the flip side, was firing. She hit 12 aces overall, giving her 430 for the season, the most of any player on the WTA Tour. “I was pleased with my serve,” Williams said after the match. “Ana is a very aggressive returner, and I went really hard at my second serve.”

The world No. 1 played without her left knee strapped, and she said it felt much better. “Compared to what it was in Beijing, it feels so much better,” Williams said. “I’m getting better, which is great.”

The win helps Williams’ chance of wrapping up the WTA year-end No. 1 spot, and now Sharapova will need to reach the final with a 2-1 record or win the title to have a chance to take away the top spot.

In the second match, Simona Halep won the battle of the WTA Finals newcomers over Genie Bouchard, with a tidy 6-2, 6-3 win. Halep raced out to a 4-0 lead in the first set and even had a point for a 5-0, triple break lead before Bouchard held to get on the board at 1-4. After clinching the first set 6-2, Halep broke early in the second and held on to wrap up the 6-2, 6-3 victory. Bouchard hit 30 errors and 5 double faults in the match.

Tuesday’s schedule features Maria Sharapova versus Caroline Wozniacki, followed by Petra Kvitova against Agnieszka Radwanska.

ORDER OF PLAY – October 21, 2014

Singapore Indoor Stadium – Start 5:30 pm

Rising Stars Final

Rising Stars Final – Monica Puig (Puerto Rico) vs Zheng SaiSai (China)

Not before 7:30 pm

(2) Maria Sharapova (Russia) vs (8) Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark)

(3) Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic) vs (6) Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland)

Stephanie Neppl is in Singapore covering the WTA Finals for Tennis Panorama News. She spends all her spare funds traveling to tennis tournaments and has played since her teen years. Follow her live updates on Twitter at @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal Twitter @stephintheus and her blog  http://ihaveatennisaddiction.blogspot.com.

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Notes and Quotes: The WTA Top 8 Meet the Press in Singapore

Elite 8

Photo taken from the twitter feed of Maria Sharapova

 

(October 19, 2014) The elite 8 of women’s tennis met the media on Sunday in advance of the WTA Finals which begin on Monday in Singapore. Here are a few notable quotables.

 

Serena Williams responding to Shamil Tarpischev’s comments:

“I think the WTA did a great job of taking initiative and taking immediate action to his comments. I thought they were very insensitive and extremely sexist as well as racist at the same time. I thought they were in a way bullying.

“I’ve done the best that I can do, and that’s all I can say. So I just wasn’t very happy with his comments. I think a lot of people weren’t happy as well.

“But the WTA and the USTA did a wonderful job of making sure that ‑‑ in this day of age, 2014 for someone with his power, it’s really unacceptable to make such bullying remarks.”

 

Maria Sharapova was also asked about Tarpishev’s comments.

“I think they were very disrespectful and uncalled for, and I’m glad that many people have stood up, including the WTA. It was very inappropriate, especially in his position and all the responsibilities that he has not just in sport, but being part of the Olympic committee. It was just really irresponsible on his side.”

 

How important is the year‑end No. 1?

SERENA WILLIAMS: “I definitely would be here if I already had it locked up. It’s obviously super important for me. I love being No. 1; I love being the best.

“But at this at the same time, I’m really glad that I was able to get a slam this year, which was really annoying for me that I wasn’t able to capture one.

That was something that was super, super, super important, especially for the goals that I was trying to reach.”

 

 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: “Yeah, my opinion about the No. 1 hasn’t changed very much. I always feel that ranking is also not just based on your results but based on other people’s results and accomplishments.

“That’s why I’ve always experienced the joy of Grand Slam wins so much more, because the spur of the moment. There is actually a point that you have to win in order to get it; whereas the rankings will depend on other people’s performances during the year, at certain tournaments.

“Is it an incredible accomplishment? Absolutely. It would be amazing to achieve that. I haven’t done that in my career, finishing year‑end No. 1, but I have been in that spot before and been No. 2 before and gotten to No. 1.

If I do perform well, then my chances are better than if I don’t perform well.

And the pic of the night…:) pic.twitter.com/x9t3ajMTb1

— Maria Sharapova (@MariaSharapova) October 18, 2014

 

 

A picture is worth a thousand words. Maria Sharapova was asked about why she tweeted the behind the scenes photo from the draw ceremony.

“Just because it’s like a thousand words in one picture. It’s incredible. Can’t wait to write a book. (Laughter.) Those are the moments where I’m like, Oh, my goodness. I just wrote a whole chapter in one evening.

“Yeah, looked like a lot of fun, huh? Love those things.”

 

Petra Kvitova was asked about if it feels different to be a Wimbledon winner the second time around.

“It is different. I think that you can’t really know what to expect from that. Just the time show you what you have to do and change in your life probably.

“I mean, I didn’t want to change myself, but of course the things around me was different, so I need to handle it and try to do best what I can.

“The pressure was there of course on the court, off the court as well. I thought that probably I need to win every match and every tournament I’m playing after that, so it’s not really possible.

“Yeah, this time it’s much more easier for me, if I can say that. I know what I can expect and I know a little bit how to deal with that. It’s not really like the first time, so…

“I’m more relaxed and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

Agnieszka Radwanska – Queen of the “Hot Shot.” The World No. was asked about her favorite shot that she hit.

“Well, of course it wasn’t that tricky as last year. Well, I have still few matches, so maybe I will do it here.

“I think I really liked that shot from Montreal from the semifinal. The overhead backhand. Maybe someone remember that.

“I think that was my favorite one, especially because it was a really big moment.

 

Ana Ivanovic- embracing Twitter and Istagram. The 2008 French Open winner and former world No. 1 was asked if she has embraced stardom and if it was due to social media and if it has impacted her on court.

That’s why I started Twitter and Instagram actually. Because I ‑‑ like I spoke just now, before I really felt like I changed also in this sense because I started to feel more comfortable with myself. I matured. It helped me to be okay with myself and who I am as a person and to embrace everything that comes with the job that I do.

“For me, I really struggled to be in the spotlight. It was really strange when I won French Open, when I was No. 1 in the world. It took me some time to accept this and to be okay.

“Now I actually enjoy it. That’s why I think it shows on and off the court I’m much more relaxed because I’m much more content with myself.”

 

What Serena has taught Eugenie Bouchard?

“I’ve learned many things. I think one thing that sticks out is that when it’s not going well, you can seeing her really try to calm herself down. She does her little hand thing, and that really symbolizes in my head she’s really trying to stay calm.

“Even someone as good as her has tough moments, and you can see her struggle with emotions a bit on the court. But she can always kind of collect herself and put it in the past and move forward.

“So I always imagine that, and I’m like, You know what? Serena can stay calm, I can stay calm.

 

Caroline Wozniacki – Not looking at the rankings. In a topsy turvy last couple of years for the two-time year-end No. 1, the Dane talks about the rankings.

“I never really looked at the rankings, but I definitely totally stopped when I went down to 18. I’m like, This is depressing. I don’t want to be down here.

“At the end of day, I just told myself, Doesn’t matter if you’re No. 1 or No. 18. At the end of the day, you have to compete with the same players. A lot of girls play so well now so it’s never easy. I just thought if I play well, the ranking will come back up soon.

“I started playing well, I started finding my form, and then the ranking just came up really quickly.”

 

The recently retired Li Na was asked about having second thoughts about calling it quits:

“Of course I’m not going to come back to tennis. I’m already 32; beginning of the year I already 33. I think I have to take care of my family right now, because last 32 years I was try hard as I can on tennis court.

“Now, you know, tennis is part of the life, so now I have to take care my family.”

Tennis Panorama News is in Singapore this week covering the WTA Finals. Follow on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.

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Djokovic and Sharapova Win China Open Titles

Novak Djokovic

(October 5, 2014) Novak Djokovic won his 24th straight match in Bejing to caoture his 5th china Open on Sunday, dismantling Tomas Berdych 6-0, 6-2 in the final.

The Serb was a point away from a “double bagel,” 6-0, 6-0 win over the Czech, who fought off match point and broke Djokovic’s serve.

“This has been, in the circumstances, probably the best performance of any final in my career,” said the world No. 1 who captured his 5th tournament win of the year, 46th in his career. “It was incredible. Incredible. Especially against Tomas, who has a big game and is already an experienced player. It was 6-0, 5-0 in under an hour. Everything I tried worked. To be proud of the performance is the least I can say of how I played tonight.

“I have played some great finals, had some convincing wins, some straight-set wins against top rivals. But with this kind of performance and with this domination result-wise, I mean it’s never happened.”

Berdych was in stunned disbelief: “I met somebody in the final who I’ve never seen before. The way that he performed today was really outstanding. There is really not much I can add to that because, really, I was just swept off the court.

“I just said to my coach now that I probably played over 700 matches in my career, and I met guys like Andre (Agassi), Roger (Federer), all those probably in their best times. But I have never, ever experienced anything like that.”

 

Sharapova

On the women’s side, in a re-match of the 2011 Wimbledon final, Maria Sharapova moved into the No. 2 spot in the rankings when she beat Petra Kvitova 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 to win the China Open.

At this time last year the Russian was off the tour with a shoulder injury.

“It’s definitely great to be a year later in a situation where this is my fourth title of the year, you know, a Grand Slam this year,” she said. “A lot to put in perspective. You look back and think about how you kind of struggled, but you kept going.”

“I knew she’d been on a roll in the last couple of weeks,” Sharapova said. “It’s probably the toughest opponent you can face in a final, that’s had that success, yet you just want to focus on your side, what you do best.

“She became the more aggressive player in the second set. I think I took a few too many steps back and let her play that way. But I was able to lift my game again in the third and come out with a win.”
“Yeah, I was tired,” said the Czech Kvitova bidding to win tournaments in two straight weeks, playing 9 matches in 13 days. “But it was a final, and every time I’m playing a final, I’m giving everything I have inside. What I did today was a great battle. It was small things and small points that made the difference in the end. I had some chances, but Maria just didn’t let them go.”

For Sharapova it was her fourth title of the season, tying her with Ana Ivanovic for second on the year behind No. 1 Serena Williams who has six titles.

The China Open was Sharapova’s 33rd career title, putting her in a tie for 15th place in the Open Era with Conchita Martinez.

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Djokovic Reaches 5th Beijing Final After 23rd Straight Win

Novak Djokovic

(October 4, 2014) No. 1 Novak Djokovic improved his perfect record to 23-0 in Beijing on Saturday when he defeated Andy Murray 6-3, 6-4 to reach his fifth China Open final.

Despite the straight set score, Djokovic felt as though he worked a lot harder.

“It was a two‑set victory today, but still it felt like I had to work hard to win the points,” the Serbian said. “There was a lot of rally exchanges. He had a lot of chances to come back. He was 4‑3 up. Just in important moments I managed to play the best tennis.”

“I just wasn’t myself on the court,” Djokokic commented about his lackluster performances since winning Wimbledon. “I wasn’t really prepared emotionally to go back and compete again after Wimbledon and a very exhausting summer, everything that happened in my professional and private life.

“I’m glad that I’m back in the form that I would like to be in, especially in these courts where I still haven’t lost ever since I played this tournament.”

Djokovic will face Czech Tomas Berdych for the China Open title on Sunday. Berdych defeated Martin Klizan, who upset Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals, 6-4, 6-1.

“It’s a final and it’s against Novak,” Berdych said. “It’s really special day for me. Every Sunday that we have to go on court and play, it means a lot because it’s a final. Playing with No. 1 player in the world is always a bit special.

“But Novak is playing in incredible form, back again. Really, he’s having a great record playing here in China Open. There is a new challenge, a new day, a new opportunity for me. I’m going to try to go there, try to take my chance and, again, try to play my tennis. Let’s see what I can do with that.”

IMG_3625-001

On the ladies side, it will be a rematch of the 2011 Wimbledon title, with the added bonus for the winner to move to No. 2 in the world with Petra Kvitova facing Maria Sharapova on Sunday.

Kvitova was pushed by Samantha Stosur 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, while Sharapova dominated Ana Ivanovic 6-0, 6-4.

Kvitova is going for her second title in China in as many weeks. She captured the inaugural Wuhan Open last week.

He chance to move up to No. 2 is not that important to the Czech.

“I was No. 2 already, so I’m not really excited about,” she said. “But, no, I’m kidding.”

“I’m not really focusing on the number. I mean, it’s just number before my name. More important for me are results on the big tournaments and on the Grand Slams, as well.

“So tomorrow I will play for the title, not for be No. 2.”

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Li Na’s Retirement Ceremony in Around the Grounds Beijing Photo Gallery

(September 30, 2014) BEIJING – Photos by Natalie Ho from around the grounds to the main interview room on Tuesday of the China Open including Li Na’s retirement ceremony.

Abigail Hinto and Natalie Ho are in Beijing, China covering the China Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow their twitter updates on @TennisNewsTPN.

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Petra Kvitova Wins Wuhan Open and Qualifies for WTA Year End Championships

Petra Kvitova

(September 27, 2014) In a rematch of the Wimbledon final staged in July, Petra Kvitova defeated Eugenie Bouchard 6-3, 6-4 to claim the inaugural Wuhan Open in China on Saturday.

With the win, the third seeded Czech player has qualified for the season-ending WTA finals in Singapore, along with Serena Williams, Simona Halep and Maria Sharapova.

“I knew that I have to play a little bit more aggressive than I played the matches before,” Kvitova said about playing her Canadian opponent. “I need to play a similar game as in Wimbledon, very aggressively going for the shots.”

This was 24-year-old Kvitova’s third title of the year and her first win over a top 10 player on the year.

“It’s been a great week, said the 20-year-old Bouchard. “First of all, of course, I have to congratulate Petra. She’s beaten me in two finals this year, so I will have to figure out what to do to beat her now!”

In the doubles final, Martina Hingis and Flavia Pennetta won their first title as a team defeating Cara Black and Caroline Garcia 6-4, 5-7, 12-10, saving two match points.

“There aren’t many places I can say I’m coming to for the first time in my 20 years of playing,” Hingis said. “And I really loved this tournament. I really enjoyed every moment. It’s just been a fantastic week.”

For Hingis this was her 39th WTA doubles title.

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Serena Williams Advances, Petra Kvitova Upset at US Open

 

(August 30, 2014) FLUSHING MEADOWS – Saturday at the US Open saw two-time defending champion Serena Williams move into the fourth round, while reigning Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova was upset.

Serena Williams beat countrywoman, No. 52, lefty Varvara Lepchenko 6-3, 6-3 on Arthur Ashe Stadium during day session, the third American in a row she has played at the US Open.

Lepchenko, who is sometimes, Williams’ practice partner, has given Williams her biggest challenge during the tournament, along with some swirling winds on center court.

“I think when someone is a lefty, they just open the court more,” said the top player. You’re expecting one serve. You kind of almost give up one side. You just say, You can ace me on this side, but I’m going to expect that side.”

“I love practicing with her. We always practice together in tournaments. Whenever I can, I love hitting with her. I think it helps her game and she helps my game.”

The victory extends her streak at Flushing Meadows to 17. She’ll face Kaia Kanepi, who beat 15th seed Carla Suarez Navarro, in the round of 16.

 

No. 4 seed Petra Kvitova had no answers for qualifier Aleksandra Krunic, a 21-year-old from Serbia who is No. 145 in the world.

“I’m an outsider,” Krunic said in her news conference. “I honestly didn’t know what to expect from myself at all. You know, I don’t know my limits.”

“I tried not to think about the score, and I kept telling myself that, you know, leave it on her because everything is up to her still and she’s in charge,” the Serb continued. “I tried to put the pressure off my shoulders, you know, because usually last couple of years I’m the one who is putting the pressure on myself, you know. So I tried not to do it today. And also on the changeover, on the 6-5 in the second, I just told to myself, It’s still on her. You still have nothing to lose, even if you’d be 6-5, 5-Love up. Play as every other game you have played. Surprisingly I managed to do it pretty well with the two big serves. You know, I didn’t expect myself to be so calm, but I really focused my 100% not to think about anything that is happening, about the court.”

Kvitova was disappointed with her efforts on Saturday. “I wanted to win today, and unfortunately I didn’t. Yeah, I think she played really unbelievable tennis and she put a lot of balls back. Almost all of them. For me it was very difficult just, you know, to play only on the winners. I did mistakes and I was really trying everything what I could in that moment. I was trying to fight and fighting every point, but it was so difficult. It wasn’t really my day. She played really great tennis today.”

The youngster Krunic will play Victoria Azarenka in the fourth round. Azarenka dismantled Elena Vesnina 6-1, 6-1. It’s Azarenka’s 100 victory at a major.

“I have seen just really briefly couple of points. But, you know, she obviously is playing great tennis and really inspired here, you know, winning so many matches in a row and upsetting such a great player. So it’s going to be tough. I think it’s always tricky when you don’t know your opponent, but I just want to focus on my game and try to get prepared as best as possible and, again, have fun.”

In the evening session, Wimbledon runner-up, No. 7 seed Eugenie Bouchard survived a close escaping the No. 30 seed Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-7 (2), 6-4 to reach the US Open fourth round for the first time.

Bouchard will play No. 17 Ekaterina Makarova for a place the quarterfinals.

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It’s a New P3tra

By Jack Cunniff

(August 23. 2014) NEW HAVEN – In 2013, Petra Kvitova became known in print media as “P3tra”, due to her propensity to get involved in three set matches. In more than half of her 2013 matches (38 of 74), Kvitova was extended to a decisive third set. In the finals of the 2014 Connecticut Open, it was a new P3tra: She won the championship match with relative ease in straight sets over Magdalena Rybarikova, 6-4, 6-2. She didn’t drop a set during the entire tournament. The only “best of three” from Kvitova was winning her second of three Connecticut Opens. She first won the title in 2012, was runner-up to Simona Halep in 2013, and now has regained the title in 2014.

 

There were shades of P3tra in the opening set. She broke Rybarikova’s serve in the sixth game, to grab a 4-2 lead. When serving for the opening set, a double fault and two errors allowed Rybarikova a reprieve. Petra continued to hit her heavy groundstrokes, and earned a second service break of the set to win it 6-4.

 

Rybarikova tried to mix the pace of her shots, but Kvitova continued to apply the pressure. She dropped only four points on serve in the second set, and struck a sharply angled backhand return of serve to win the match. Rybarikova competed as best she could, although a hamstring injury obtained during her semifinal against Camila Giorgi impacted her mobility.

 

Kvitova has been in good form for most of the summer. She has won 16 of her last 19 matches, while capturing two tournament titles, bringing her career total to 13. The question is whether she can carry that form into the U.S. Open. The final Grand Slam event of the year begins next week, and Kvitova has never been past the fourth round. In the last two years, she had great form from New Haven entering the event, but suffered upset losses both years. Her comfort in New Haven does not always translate to the circus of New York City. As Kvitova states, “New York is pretty crowded. It’s always big show. A lot of people everywhere. I’m more the person who is little bit calm.”

 

Rybarikova will re-enter the Top Fifty rankings on the strength of this result, her first appearance in a Premier final. She played well and used all of her weapons to defeat three higher ranked opponents, including world No. 2 Simona Halep. But she too may find her New Haven form fleeting; not only is she nursing the hamstring injury, she must face tenth seed Caroline Wozniacki in the opening round of the U.S. Open.

 

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Familiar Face for the Finals of the Connecticut Open

Petra Kvitova photo by Jack Cunniff

Petra Kvitova photo by Jack Cunniff

By Jack Cunniff

(August 22, 2014) NEW HAVEN – The Connecticut Open has a history of players repeating as finalists, and there’s another name to add to the list. Petra Kvitova, the second seed, defeated Sam Stosur in the semifinals and advanced to her third consecutive final in New Haven. She follows the trend set by Venus Williams (four straight finals between 1999-2002), Lindsay Davenport (five appearances in six finals between 2001-2006), and Caroline Wozniacki (four straight finals between 2008 – 2011)

 

Kvitova, the reigning Wimbledon champion, easily dispatched the 2011 U.S. Open champion Stosur, 6-3, 6-1. Kvitova’s win in the semifinals was reminiscent of her Wimbledon final, where she cruised past Genie Bouchard 6-3, 6-0. Everything was working for Kvitova, most notably her serve. She served 11 aces in eight services games. Stosur, who had blasted 22 aces in her first three matches of the Connecticut Open, managed none against the Kvitova return.

 

Kvitova is at her best when she’s in her comfort zone, and New Haven provides that. With much of the tennis world’s focus on the U.S. Open preparations 90 minutes away in New York, New Haven offers a more laid back atmosphere. Kvitova has called New Haven “the calm before the storm,” and on her Twitter account this past week, the 24-year-old Czech posted that it “feels like being home when I come back here and play on this court”, and asked “Can I play in New Haven every week?” In addition to her love of this event, Kvitova has a very successful 12-4 record in tour finals. That will make things tough for her opponent in the Connecticut Open final, Magdalena Rybarikova.

 

Rybarikova, from Slovakia, earned her way to the final by outwitting Camila Giorgi. Giorgi had used aggressive hitting to power through two higher ranked opponents, Wozniacki and Garbine Muguruza, earlier in the week. Rybarikova changed tactics. She mixed the pace and angles of her shots, and served and volleyed on key points, refusing to get into a hitting contest. The strategy kept Giorgi off balance, and drew multiple errors from the Italian. As Rybarikova noted afterwards, Giorgi “has A plan but no B plan”, which allowed Rybarikova to stay in control.

 

The final on Saturday pits two good friends and former doubles partners against each other. Kvitova leads the head-to-head 4-1, with Rybarikova winning their most recent match, an ITF final in Prague, May 2011. That final was in Kvitova’s home country; this one will be in her home away from home.

 

Jack Cunniff is covering the Connecticut Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN. His personal twitter is @JRCunniff.

 

CONNECTICUT OPEN PRESENTED BY UNITED TECHNOLOGIES – NEW HAVEN, USA
$ 710,000.00
17-23 AUGUST 2014

RESULTS – AUGUST 22, 2014
Women’s
Singles – Semifinals

[2] P Kvitova (CZE) d [WC] S Stosur (AUS) 63 61
M Rybarikova (SVK) d C Giorgi (ITA) 62 64

Women’s
Doubles – Semifinals

M Erakovic (NZL) / A Parra Santonja (ESP) d C Garcia (FRA) / M Niculescu (ROU) 62 57 11-9
A Klepac (SLO) / S Soler-Espinosa (ESP) d D Jurak (CRO) / M Moulton-Levy (USA) 76(3) 46 10-8

US Open National Playoffs
Mixed Doubles Championship – Semifinals

J Cako (USA) / J Kielbowicz (USA) d N Melichar (USA) / P Smith (USA) 57 60 10-8
E Shibahara (USA) / S Shibahara (USA) d B Bohrnstedt (USA) / M Rose (USA) 62 36 12-10

 

ORDER OF PLAY – SATURDAY, AUGUST 23, 2014
STADIUM start 12:30 pm
WTA DOUBLES FINAL – M Erakovic (NZL) / A Parra Santonja (ESP) vs A Klepac (SLO) / S Soler-Espinosa (ESP)

Not Before 3:00 pm
WTA SINGLES FINAL – M Rybarikova (SVK) vs [2] P Kvitova (CZE)

GRANDSTAND start 1:30 pm
USONP MIXED DOUBLES CHAMPIONSHIP – J Cako (USA) / J Kielbowicz (USA) vs E Shibahara (USA) / S Shibahara (USA)

 

 

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