2014/08/20

Pironkova Stuns Kvitova in Sydney

Kvitova

Petra Kvitova

By Dave Gertler

(January 9, 2014) World No. 107 Tsvetana Pironkova will be the first women’s qualifier to reach the finals of the Apia International after taking out the No.2 seed Czech Petra Kvitova in straight sets on Ken Rosewall Arena on Thursday. It will also be her first appearance at a WTA level final.

In order to get there, she has had to play seven days in a row, getting past some of the toughest opponents in both the qualifying and the main draws. Physically she says she’s doing fine, apart from, “Some pains here and there.” She said, “It’s quite normal considering I’ve been playing for seven consecutive days now. But these are not serious injuries. These are normal things that happen to you after so many matches. I’ve had them before. I know it’s nothing to worry about too much.”

Showing a glimpse of the mentality that was her motivation to reach her first final, she said, “This is something I’ve been dreaming about for a long time now and something that I’ve been missing, to go to the final or even have a title. So you can only imagine how I will feel tomorrow on the court. We’ll see what happens.”

Angelique Kerber

Angelique Kerber

Despite her undergdog status, Pironkova has won one of her two previous matches against Angelique Kerber, who will be her opponent in the final after Kerber beat American Madison Keys in just over an hour. It was a convincing win for Kerber, who seemed to make fewer unforced errors as the match wore on, neutralizing Keys’ power-hitting and big serving, making the first set a more even contest – at 6-4 – than the second when Kerber used her lefty forehand to attack Keys’ backhand, taking the set 6-2.

Reaching the final of the first tournament of the year Kerber attributed to simple hard work, saying, “I was working very hard in my off season and trying to play more aggressive in my practice sessions,” saying of Keys that she is, “A great, talented player, and I knew this before the match because I had a great, tough match last year at Melbourne against her. So she served very well today, and I think I had a great return.  I think that was also the key in this match.”

While Pironkova joked that winning seven matches in a row is equivalent to a grand slam, her opponent Kerber sees Sydney as an integral part of her preparation for the upcoming slam next week, saying, “I think for me it’s important to have some matches before a grand slam and to feel good, and, yeah, to know that everything is working.  So that’s why I also decide to play here. I think, yeah, I had right now good matches. Tomorrow I had another one, and then I think I am ready for Melbourne.”

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering the Australian summer of tennis for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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Serena Williams to Face Jelena Jankovic in Istanbul Semis

 

Serena Williams

(October 25, 2013) Serena Williams will face off against Jelena Jankovic in the semifinals of the WTA Championships in Istanbul on Saturday while Li Na will play Petra Kvitova.

No. 4 seed Li Na earned her semifinal berth with a 6-2, 6-1 win on Friday over Victoria Azarenka who was suffering from a back injury. Li won the White Group with a perfect 3-0 record.

2011 WTA Championships winner Petra Kvitova, came back against Angelique Kerber 6-7 (3), 6-2, 6-3.

Defending champion Serena Williams has a 7-4 career edge against Jankovic. Li and Kvitova are even at 3-3 in head-to-head meetings.

The Williams-Jankovic match-up will be just the second time that two thirty-somethings are in the final four of the year-end championships.

Not in  action on Friday, Williams accepted her award for finishing 2013 with the top ranking for the third time. Williams also finished as the year-end No. 1 in 2002 and 2009.

 

TEB BNP PARIBAS WTA CHAMPIONSHIPS – ISTANBUL
Istanbul, Turkey
October 22-October 27, 2013
$6,000,000/Season-Ending Championships
Hard/Indoors

Results – Friday, October 25, 2013
White Group
(4) Li Na (CHN) d. (2) Victoria Azarenka (BLR) 62 61
(6) Sara Errani (ITA) d. (7) Jelena Jankovic (SRB) 64 64

Red Group
(5) Petra Kvitova (CZE) d. (8) Angelique Kerber (GER) 67(3) 62 63

Order Of Play – Saturday, October 26, 2013
Center Court (from 13.00hrs)
1. Petrova/Srebotnik vs. Hsieh/Peng
2. Li Na vs. Petra Kvitova (NB 15.00hrs)
3. Serena Williams vs. Jelena Jankovic
4. Errani/Vinci vs. Makarova/Vesnina

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Serena Williams First to Reach Istanbul Semifinals

SerenaWilliamsFaceoff112

(October 24, 2013) Serena Williams completed round-robin play at the WTA Championships in Istanbul with a perfect 3-0 record in the Red Group without dropping a set as she defeated Petra Kvitova 6-2, 6-3 on Thursday in 72 minutes. She improved her record against the Czech to 5-0.

 

Williams dominated Kvitova in every way. Williams hit 27 winners, hit 11 aces, fought off all four break points against her, won 15 straight points in one part of the match and won 18 consecutive points on her serve at one point.

 

The 32-year-old defending champion is three wins behind Martina Navratilova, who holds the record of 21 straight wins in the WTA Year-End.

Williams is having a career year going 76-4 with 10 titles in 2013. She trying to become the first woman to defend the year-end event title since Justine Henin in 2007. The world No. 1 is bidding to win her 4th WTA Championships crown. Henin was also the last women to win 10 titles, also in 2007.

Despite the loss, Kvitova who is 1-1 in the Red Group still has a chance to advance to the semis, should she defeat Angelique Kerber in group play on Friday.

TEB BNP PARIBAS WTA CHAMPIONSHIPS – ISTANBUL
Istanbul, Turkey
October 22-October 27, 2013
$6,000,000/Season-Ending Championships
Hard/Indoors

Results – Thursday, October 24, 2013
Red Group
(1) Serena Williams (USA) d. (5) Petra Kvitova (CZE) 62 63
(8) Angelique Kerber (GER) d. (3) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) 62 62

White Group
(4) Li Na (CHN) d. (7) Jelena Jankovic (SRB) 63 26 63

Order Of Play – Friday, October 25, 2013
Center Court (from 17.00hrs)
1. Victoria Azarenka vs. Li Na
2. Petra Kvitova vs. Angelique Kerber
3. Sara Errani vs. Jelena Jankovic

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Serena Williams Sails, Jankovic Shocks Azarenka in Istanbul

 

Jelena Jankovic

Jelena Jankovic

(October 23, 2013) Top seed Serena Williams remained undefeated in Red Group play while No. 2 Victoria Azarenka fell to former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic in the White Group on Wednesday at the WTA Championships in Istanbul.

 

Williams was too much of a force for Agnieszka Radwanska as she dismissed her 6-2, 6-4 in the last match of the day. Williams increase her perfect record over Radwanska to 8-0. Williams has only ever lost one set to Radwanska and that came in the 2012 Wimbledon final.

 

Williams who is 2-0 in round-robin play will match up against undefeated Petra Kvitova next. Williams is 75-4 for 2013.

 

The upset contest of the day belonged to Jelena Jankovic who downed Azarenka 6-4, 6-3, breaking a four-match losing skid against the Belarusian. Jankovic is coming back into the form that made her a top 10 player. She’s back in the top ten for the first time since 2011, currently ranked No. 8.

 

Azarenka has struggled since reaching the finals of the US Open, falling in the opening rounds of Tokyo and Beijing. She also struggled in her first round-robin match in Istanbul, a three-set win over Sara Errani.

 

In more White Group action, Li Na opened up Wednesday’s play with a 6-3, 7-6(5) win over Sara Errani. Li was forced to rally from a 1-3 deficit in the second set, as well as the tiebreak to move past Errani. Li’s record against Errani is now 6-0.

 

The top two records in each group  will advance to the semifinals.

 

TEB BNP PARIBAS WTA CHAMPIONSHIPS – ISTANBUL
Istanbul, Turkey
October 22-October 27, 2013
$6,000,000/Season-Ending Championships
Hard/Indoors

Results – Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Red Group
(1) Serena Williams (USA) d. (3) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) 62 64

White Group
(7) Jelena Jankovic (SRB) d. (2) Victoria Azarenka (BLR) 64 63
(4) Li Na (CHN) d. (6) Sara Errani (ITA) 63 76(5)

Order Of Play – Thursday, October 24, 2013
Center Court (from 17.00hrs)
1. Li Na vs. Jelena Jankovic
2. Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Angelique Kerber
3. Serena Williams vs. Petra Kvitova

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Serena Williams Crushes Kerber in Opening Match in Istanbul

Serena Williams

(October 22, 2013) No. 1 Serena Williams demolished Angelique Kerber 6-3, 6-1 to begin her quest to defend last year’s WTA Championships title and to win her fourth year-end title. Kerber is one of only a few women to beat Williams in the last two years when she bested the American in Cincinnati in August of 2012.

Kerber told media that Williams was playing “unbelievable” and that she had no chance.

Williams is having a banner year going 74-4 with 10 titles so far in 2013. She trying to to be the first woman to defend the year-end event title since Justine Henin in 2007. Henin was also the last women to win 10 titles, also in 2007.

Williams has passed the $10 million mark in prize money for the year. Should she defend the title and go undefeated she would surpass the $12 million dollars for the year.

In the final match of the day, 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova beat Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 6-4.

 

TEB BNP PARIBAS WTA CHAMPIONSHIPS – ISTANBUL
Istanbul, Turkey
October 22-October 27, 2013
$6,000,000/Season-Ending Championships
Hard/Indoors

Results – Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Red Group
(1) Serena Williams (USA) d. (8) Angelique Kerber (GER) 63 61
(5) Petra Kvitova (CZE) d. (3) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) 64 64

White Group
(2) Victoria Azarenka (BLR) d. (6) Sara Errani (ITA) 76(4) 62

Order Of Play – Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Center Court (from 17.00hrs)
1. Li Na vs. Sara Errani
2. Victoria Azarenka vs. Jelena Jankovic
3. Serena Williams vs. Agnieszka Radwanska

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Azarenka Pushes Past Errani to Lead Off WTA Championships

Azarenka

By Andrew Jones

(October 22, 2013) After the first seven games of the match in the first match at the WTA Championships in Istanbul, it seemed Sara Errani was ready to show again to any of her critics why their negative comments about her are still unbelievably foolish.

 

With her all court skill and savvy at just 5’4, Errani’s level of shotmaking and versatility became the main story of the first set instead of Victoria Azarenka‘s search to reclaim her top two form. But as the case with Errani, having even two breaks leads in a set against the elite is not a guarantee for her, as the Belarusian came back to score a satisfying opening win, 7-6 (4), 6-2.

 

Down 5-2 in the first set, Azarenka found her consistency with her usual depth that was absent the first seven games. It came in the nic of time, as she started to anticipate Errani’s top class dropshots and raise her own level of serve to turn around the match.

 

Errani was clearly crushed that she couldn’t serve out the first set with two opportunities, as she ended the first set tiebreak with a brutal second double fault of her serve to give Azarenka the full escape out of trouble. That was a precursor to how the second set would go, as Errani’s ailing calf and achilles on her right leg were prevalent to all. She called for the trainer twice and received one medical timeout, but the 5th ranked player did not have any plans to retire from the match.

 

It will be interesting to see if Errani will play her remaining two matches in the White Group, especially with her having the first match again Wednesday against Li Na. With her and Roberta Vinci in the doubles’ semifinals, it would not be a surprise to see Caroline Wozniacki replace Errani as the first alternative.

 

Meanwhile for Azarenka, it was the type of tricky test she needed in order to end her three match losing streak. Errani is as eclectic as any top 10 player (and that includes Agnieszka Radwanska), and the world number two is fully cognizant of the fact that she won’t face anyone else as capricious as the diminutive Italian. She showed terrific movement and no signs of any ailments and showed, even on the notoriously slow indoor surface at the Sinan Erdem Dome, that she is still the favorite right after Serena Williams.

 

Andrew Jones is a freelance sports, political, and music journalist. He is also the founder and publisher of The Whole Delivery (twd4u.com). Follow him on twitter.

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Petra Kvitova Wins Title in Tokyo

 

Kvitova Dubai winner

(September 28, 2013) In an all-lefty final, 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova beat Angelique Kerber 6-2, 0-6, 6-3 in the Pan Pacific Open final in Tokyo on Saturday for her second title of the year.

“I’m very happy I could win this final today,” Kvitova sais. “For me the whole tournament was great – I felt good all week on the court. I really enjoyed my week here and it’s even better to come away with the title.”

“Petra was playing very well in the first set – in the second set I started to play my game, and I tried to do the same thing in the third set, but she started playing tougher again and moved better,” said the losing finalist. “I was trying to give my best but she was better at the end, so all credit to her.”

The win will move Kvitova up to No. 7 in the world from No. 11 when the rankings come out on Monday, putting her in contention for a place in the WTA Year-End Championships in Istanbul.

For the Czech it’s her 11th the career title. Back in February, Kvitova won a title in Dubai.

 

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American Wild Card Alison Riske Upsets Seventh Seed Petra Kvitova at US Open

 

Alison Riske photo by Steve Fogleman

Alison Riske photo by Steve Fogleman

 

(August 31, 2013) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – American wild card, Pittsburgh native Alison Riske demolished 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-0 to reach the round of 16 at a major for the first time.

The world No. 81 Riske, who is 23, won the last eight games against the seventh-seeded Kvitova for her first win over a top ten player.

“It was really emotional for me,” said Riske of the win.  “It’s just really cool because I feel like I’m playing within myself.  I’m not doing anything crazy.  It just feels really comfortable.  It’s exciting.”

“It was just really cool to see hard work kind of be put together, you know, to kind of happen,” Riske continued.  “It was really cool for me.  I have such a great support team behind me.  They’re kind of like my family.  So for them to be there with me was really special.”

Kvitova had seven double faults and 27 unforced errors to Riske’s mere 7 errors.

“I beat her last week in New Haven,” Kvitova said.  “Unfortunately, I couldn’t play really long rallies, like more than three shots in the rallies.  So I try to play my aggressive game, first or second shots, to have a winner.

“But she moved quite well.  She pushed me to the back.  So, I mean, that was tough for me.”

Kvitova admitted that she was ill during the match: “My body didn’t help me today to move little bit.  So unfortunately I tried to play, tried to fight.  But, yeah, my body wouldn’t let me to fight.”

The Czech thinks that she suffering from the same virus she had during Wimbledon.

“Is unlucky on the Grand Slam” said Kvitova.  I will take it for this year and next year will be better.”

Asked about who is the best player ever from Pittburgh is Riske said: “I’d like to think I’m up there.  I mean, I know Bjorn Fratangelo, a junior, doing great.  Gretchen Rush I believe had a pretty good career.  Yeah, hopefully I’m working my way up.”

Riske will meet Daniela Hantuchova for a spot in the quarterfinals.

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Simona Halep Heads for New York on a Roll

By Jack Cunniff

(August 24, 2013) NEW HAVEN – For Simona Halep, it all came together in Rome. Ranked 64th at the time, she defeated three players ranked in the Top Twenty en route to the semifinals, where she lost to Serena Williams.  Her strong form continued with tournament victories in Nurnberg, s’Hertogenbosch, and Budapest. And on the eve of the U.S. Open, she has now won her fourth title of 2013, and largest of her career, taking the New Haven Open title over Petra Kvitova.

It is Halep’s first Premier title on the WTA Tour, and it will vault her into the world’s Top Twenty; she is expected to be No. 19 on Monday.  How will she feel as one of the top women’s players?  Based on an 11-4 record vs. the Top Twenty since Rome, she certainly belongs.

Four thousand fans arrived at Yale today to watch the New Haven Open final, probably expecting   the defending champion, Kvitova, to repeat. The 23-year-old is a former Wimbledon champion, a former world No. 2, and the third seed. But as the players warmed up, emcee Wayne Bryan listed the recent achievements of the unseeded Halep; she was deserving of her spot in the final.

In the first few games, Kvitova began the way she finished her semifinal match, when she crushed Klara Zakopalova 6-0, 6-1. She held serve easily, and had a 15-40 advantage in each of Halep’s first two service games. Halep successfully fought her way through her service games, then broke Kvitova’s service for a 3-2 lead. That lead to a flurry of unforced errors from Kvitova that continued for the remainder of the match.  The 21-year-old from Romania went on a streak of nine straight games, to lead 6-2, 4-0.  While Kvitova managed to salvage her final two service games, Halep sealed the title with an ace, 6-2, 6-2.

Halep becomes only the second unseeded player to win the title in New Haven; her semifinal victim, Caroline Wozniacki, was the first in 2008. She becomes the tenth different player to capture the title in New Haven since the event has been played at Yale University in 1998. Seven of the previous nine champions also have Grand Sam Singles titles on their résumé.

In Doubles action, Sania Mirza and Zheng Jie took the title in straight sets over Anabel Medina Garrigues and Katarina Srebotnik, 6-3, 6-4.  Mirza and Zheng were playing in their third hard court event this summer as a duo, and had struggled in their earlier events. Those struggles continued in the first two rounds in New Haven, as the pair had to battle through 10-8 third set scores in both of those matches to stay alive. But they’ve started to gel as a team, and won in straight sets in the semifinals and final to take the trophy. As Mirza noted afterwards, “I think that you got to win, so to say, a couple ugly matches.” They played their best today against the veteran duo of Srebotnik and Medina Garrigues, who are playing together for the first time in eight years.

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Reversal of Fortune in New Haven

Wozniacki frustrated

By Jack Cunniff

(August 23, 2013) Yesterday,  Caroline Wozniacki was asked about her high quality play in the quarterfinals of the New Haven Open against Sloane Stephens. “You never know,” she replied, “Every match is different.  Sometimes you feel really great out there.  Sometimes it’s a struggle, but you need to find a way to win.  Sometimes it’s a little up and down.”  Sure enough, today’s semifinal action at Yale proved to be a complete reversal from the form the competitors displayed in their quarterfinals.
Defending champion Petra Kvitova entered the semifinals today having been extended to three sets in each of her last six matches, including all three matches she played in New Haven.  In fact, 12 of her last 15 matches, dating back to the Eastbourne event in June, have gone the distance.  Kvitova had played a WTA Tour-leading 30 three set  matches.  But today she cruised through her semifinal against Klara Zakopalova.  Kvitova was a model of efficiency against her friend and Czech countrywoman Zakopalova.  Despite serving three double faults in the match, Kvitova’s serve was a huge weapon; she won 23 of 26 first serve points, and never faced a break point in the match.  The crowd cheered enthusiastically for Zakopalova when she finally held serve in the twelfth game, but the end result was no longer in doubt, and Kvitova advanced 6-0, 6-1.
The evening match saw 4-time New Haven champion Caroline Wozniacki square off against Simona Halep, the 21-year-old Romanian who has won three events over the summer.  Wozniacki, so sharp in the quarterfinals against Stephens, could not recapture that form today.  She made too many errors and seemed easily flustered in the first set.  Halep, with the experience she’s gained this year, took advantage.  After Wozniacki lost the opening set 6-2, she tried to change tactics. She hit a higher ball with little pace, and mixed in some drop shots. The strategy partially worked, as it forced Halep into more errors, but Halep still had full control of the match. She broke Wozniacki at 5-5 in the second set, and held her nerve to serve out the match, 6-2, 7-5.
Halep will face Kvitova for the first time in her career in tomorrow’s Championship match.
Around the Grounds… Kvitova is hoping to defend a title successfully for the first time tomorrow. “I have one more new motivation then,” she said when reminded she’s never defended a title…. Wozniacki was asked about Halep’s sudden improvement, and spoke of how quickly intangibles like confidence can turn around someone’s game. “You know, the thing is, it can switch so quickly.  It can be one match that changes completely.  All of a sudden you feel like you’re playing great, you’re on a roll. Yeah, it’s so little, and it can do so much to your game.”… Defending doubles champion Liezel Huber and partner Nuria Llagostera Vives were eliminated in the Doubles semifinals by Anabel Medina Garrigues and Katarina Srebotnik.  Huber won the 2012 New Haven Open title with Lisa Raymond; Huber/Llagostera Vives had elimanted Raymond and current partner Flavia Pennetta in the opening round. Medina Garrigues and Srebotnik, the second seeds, take on The No. 3 seeds Sania Mirza and Jie Zheng in Sunday’s championship match.
Jack Cunniff is covering the New Haven Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN. His personal twitter is @JRCunniff.
 NEW HAVEN OPEN AT YALE
New Haven, CT, USA
August 18-24, 2013
$690,000/Premier
Hard/Outdoors

Results – Friday, August 23, 2013
Singles – Semifinals
(3) Petra Kvitova (CZE) d. Klara Zakopalova (CZE) 60 61
Simona Halep (ROU) d. (4) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) 62 75

Doubles – Semifinals
(2) Medina Garrigues/Srebotnik (ESP/SLO) d. (4) Huber/Llagostera Vives (USA/ESP) 46 75 101 (Match TB)

Order Of Play – Saturday, August 24, 2013
Stadium (from 12.25hrs)
1. Doubles Final: Mirza/Zheng vs. Medina Garrigues/Srebotnik
2. Singles Final: Simona Halep vs. Petra Kvitova (NB 15.00hrs)

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