2014/10/23

Connecticut Open – Day 1

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Connecticut Open – Day 1

 

By Jack Cunniff

 

(August 17, 2014) NEW HAVEN -First Round Action: Sixth seed Flavia Pennetta advanced to the second round of the Connecticut Open defeating Klara Koukalova. Koukalova was a semifinalist here last year, and had defeated Pennetta in New Haven in 2011 …Ekaterina Makarova scored a routine win over Roberta Vinci, 63 63, setting up a second round match against No. 2 seed Petra Kvitova. Makarova defeated Kvitova two weeks ago in the third round of Montreal. Makarova has compiled a very consistent record in 2014; the lowest ranked player she’s lost to this year was No. 26 Svetlana Kuznetsova in Washington, D.C…. Alison Riske defeated Casey Dellacqua in straight sets, snapping a four match losing streak that dated back to her third round Wimbledon loss to Maria Sharapova… Camilla Giorgi, ranked No. 37, defeated Coco Vandeweghe ranked no. 38. Only 3 points separated the two players in the August 11, 2014 rankings.

Qualifying: Sunday’s play at The Connecticut Open saw six players advance to the main draw from the Qualifying event: Belinda Bencic, Shaui Peng, Silvia Soler-Espinosa, Timea Bacsinszky, and by winning third set tiebreaks, Misaki Doi and Irina-Camelia Begu.  Qualifiers have had great success in New Haven. In three of the last five years, a qualifier has reached at least the quarterfinals. The most successful qualifier in recent years was Petra Cetkovska, who reached the New Haven final in 2011, defeating Li Na, Marion Bartoli, and Agnieszka Radwanska en route.
All Access Hour: Petra Kvitova, comparing her 2011 and 2014 Wimbledon wins: “I enjoyed it a little bit more the second time. I feel it is more special a little bit…This year, I felt like I was the favorite for the matches, so it was more difficult.” Kvitova enjoys playing in New Haven, comparing it to the calm before the storm that is the U.S. Open… Simona Halep is attempting her first successful title defense in New Haven. There’s pressure involved in defending her title and the ranking points that come with it, but Halep is quietly confident about her chances: “I’m also relaxed because I played good last week and I’m 100%”… Caroline Wozniacki Is happy with her current form, and feels her close matches to Serena Williams in the past two weeks is proof that her play is on the upswing. But she is concerned about one thing: cookies. “The worst part about (New Haven) is they’ve opened up this cookie shop right around the corner… that is very dangerous.” Wozniacki is doing a lot of running off-court, not only to work off the cookies, but to prepare for the New York Marathon. She will be running for the charity Team For Kids., which raises funds for health and fitness programs for kids… Genie Bouchard breaks down the top 50 players: “The most important thing at this level is the mental side. It’s really about who can play their best in the high pressure situations or on big stages.” When asked about setting Canadian tennis records, Genie cited her Junior Wimbledon title (2013) and becoming the first Canadian to win a Singles Slam “It was huge for me. I made history for my country.”

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

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Wimbledon Champion Kvitova, Wimbledon Finalist Bouchard Head Connecticut Open Field

Petra Kvitova3

 

NEW HAVEN, Conn., July 8, 2014 – 2014 Wimbledon Champion and World No. 4 Petra Kvitova, 2014 Wimbledon Finalist and World No. 7 Genie Bouchard, and Defending Champion and World No. 3 Simona Halep headline the field, which has collectively won 14 Grand Slam and 188 WTA singles and doubles titles, for the 2014 Connecticut Open presented by United Technologies, it was announced today by Tournament Director Anne Worcester. The WTA event, which is part of the Emirates Airline US Open Series, will be held August 15-23, 2014 at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale,
Kvitova, the 2012 Connecticut Open Champion, marched through the Wimbledon fortnight the past two weeks to grab her second career Grand Slam title in four years, becoming just the third two-time winner in women’s singles since 1996. The Czech star defeated Bouchard in the final, the first Grand Slam final of the young star’s career. The 20-year-old has rapidly ascended the rankings to become the highest-ranked Canadian player in history, thanks to semifinals appearances at both the Australian and French Opens, along with capturing her first WTA title at Nurnberg. This will be her first appearance at the Connecticut Open.
Halep is having a career season highlighted by a finals appearance at the French Open, reaching the semifinals of Wimbledon, and winning the title in Doha, all of which have catapulted her to a career-high ranking of No. 3 in the world. She returns to defend her 2013 Connecticut Open title, where she defeated Kvitova to win the trophy.
Aside from Halep, Kvitova and Bouchard, five other players in this year’s Connecticut Open field are ranked in the WTA top 20 including No. 15 and four-time Connecticut Open Champion Caroline Wozniacki, who will be chasing a record fifth title in New Haven (currently tied with Venus Williams with four Connecticut Open titles). In addition to Wozniacki, No. 13 Flavia Pennetta, who won in Indian Wells earlier this year; No. 14 and 2012 French Open finalist Sara Errani; No. 16 Carla Suarez-Navarro, who will be making her fourth Connecticut Open appearance; and No. 19 Ekaterina Makarova, a Grand Slam doubles champion, who advanced to the quarterfinals at New Haven last year, will compete for the title.
Joining the top-20 stars in this year’s field are American Coco Vandeweghe, a former US Open Junior Champion who also triumphed at s’-Hertogenbosh to capture her first WTA title;  Garbine Muguruza, who advanced to this year’s French Open quarterfinals and defeated World No. 1 Serena Williams along the way; Roberta Vinci, who teamed with Errani to complete the doubles Grand Slam at this year’s Wimbledon; Shuai Zhang, who advanced to the semifinals at Birmingham, Kuala Lumpur and Acapulco this year; Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova, who advanced to the Wimbledon quarterfinals and made a finals appearance in Birmingham, England; Klara Koukalova, a victor in Florianopolis and finals attendee in Rio de Janeiro and Hobart; Elina Svitolina, who advanced to the semifinals in Nurnberg; and Casey Dellacqua, a Birmingham semifinalist.
Rounding out the field are Magdalena Rybarikova, a four-time WTA tournament winner and semifinalist at s’-Hertogenbosch; Kurumi Nara, winner in Rio de Janeiro; Camila Giorgi, who advanced to the finals in Katowice; and Bojana Jovanovski.
“The 2014 Connecticut Open presented by United Technologies player field is loaded with talent – Wimbledon Champion Petra Kvitova and Wimbledon Finalist Genie Bouchard; Defending Connecticut Open Champion Simona Halep and four-time Connecticut Open Champion Caroline Wozniacki; and rising stars such as Spaniard Garbine Muguruza and American Coco Vandeweghe,” said Worcester. “All told, we have three of the top 10 players in the world, eight of the top 20, and with the men’s event featuring James Blake, Andy Roddick and Jim Courier, the tournament promises to be exceptionally entertaining this year.”
On Wednesday, August 20, Fairfield native James Blake, a two-time Connecticut Open Champion and former top-five ranked player, will matchup against Jim Courier, a four-time Grand Slam Champion and former World No. 1. On Thursday, August 21, Blake will face-off against Andy Roddick, another former World No. 1 and Grand Slam Champion. Both matches will be played following the 7:00 p.m. WTA feature match on their respective nights, and they will be best of three sets, with a super tie-break played for the third set. In addition, fans interested in participating in a Pro-Am with these American stars before the matches, or who want to capitalize on a party complete with dinner and a “meet and greet,” should visit www.ctopen.org for more information.
The field will be completed in the coming weeks with the addition of four wildcards, which the tournament will award, and the addition of six players who will advance through the 48 player qualifying draw. The first two seeds at the tournament will receive a bye.
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Petra Kvitova Routs Eugenie Bouchard to win Second Wimbledon Crown

(July 5, 2014) Sixth seed Petra Kvitova put on a clinic to beat 13th seed Eugenie Bouchard 6-3, 6-0 in 55 minutes to win her second Wimbledon title.
Kvitova, from the Czech Republic, hit 28 winners and won 82% of the points on her first serve to claim the victory.

Kvitova was aggressive throughout the match, blasting returns, serving hard and was 9 of 10 at the net against the 20-year-old Canadian.

“Definitely was one of the best matches what I played,” said the 24-year-old.

“I knew that I could play well on the grass, but I really played so well today.  I exactly know what I have to play to beat her.

“I just did really everything what I could in the moment.  I was very focused for every point.  I knew that I have to go forward for every shot what I’m playing to push her.”

“For sure, she was on,” Bouchard said. “She has weapons.  We know that when she’s on, she’s very tough to beat.  Especially on this surface.  She’s been in the final before, all these things.

“You know, I just have to give her credit.  You know, she deserved to win today.”

Kvitova won the final seven games to close out the match.

It was Bouchard’s first major final. Kvitova won Wimbledon in 2011. She is 26-5 at the All England Club.

Kvitova, with the win on Saturday remains the only player born in the 1990s to win a major singles title. The Czech will move up to No. 4 when the rankings are released on Monday.

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Bouchard to Face 2011 Champ Kvitova for Wimbledon Title

 

 

 

(July 3, 2014) WIMBLEDON – Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard will face off against 2011 champion Petra Kvitova for the Wimbledon title on Saturday at the All England Club.

Bouchard became Canada’s first Grand Slam finalist by beating French Open runner-up Halep 7-6 (5), 6-2, while No. 6 Kvitova defeated countrywoman and friend No. 23 Lucie Safarova 7-6 (6), 6-1 in the first all-Czech women’s major semifinal.

In the fourth game of the Bouchard – Halep match on Thursday, play was delayed for five minutes for a medical time out for Simona Halep in the fourth game due to a left ankle injury.

Play was also halted again, in the middle of a first set tiebreaker, due to a spectator being ill. Despite the distractions, the 13th seed Bouchard still held her concentration.

The 20-year-old Bouchard who is playing in just her sixth major said: “What I do well is I really don’t let it get to me or affect me.”

Halep, the No. 3 seed said of her injuries: “It was difficult to continue because I twist my ankle and was very hard.  I felt a big pain in the moment, but then was better with the tape.

“But still I couldn’t push anymore in my leg.  My first serve was really bad after that.  Yeah, it was difficult to continue with another injury.”

“As I said, in tiebreak was a lucky ball at 4-2 and she came really well back after that.

“After losing a set, it’s really tough to say, Let’s play two more to win with two injuries, I can say.

“I lost my energy because I am a little bit tired also.  I played many matches.  After French Open was really short the time to recover.  But, you know, I’m really happy that I could play semifinal here.  Is my best result in Wimbledon.

“I cannot be sad now.  I just want to enjoy this result and to look forward to play many more matches at the Grand Slams.”

“She played also well when we played together in Indian Wells.  But, of course, here, this surface, is better for her I think because it’s faster and she’s staying very close to the baseline.  She hitting the ball very early and very fast.

“Yeah, I think she improved more maybe in confidence.  She has more confidence now and more experience because she played well also in French Open.

“She’s a great player, and for sure she will be in top very soon.”

“It’s not like a surprise to me,” Bouchard said of her success here at Wimbledon.  “I expect good results like this.  So for me, I was like, Okay, good.  It’s a step in the right direction.  I get to play in the final.  You know, I still have another match, so it’s not a full celebration yet.”

“I get to make Canadian history again,” Bouchard said about being the first Canadian to reach a major final in the Open Era.  “It’s always exciting and special when I can make history.  My job is not done.  I want to go another step further.

“So I’m going to stay focused and enjoy it after.”

 

 

It was a battle between longtime friends with Kvitova and Safarova. After a tight first set which went to a tiebreak, the match went all the former champion’s way. From 6-6 in the first set, Kvitova using a dominating serve and forehand won 31 of the next 48 points to complete the victory and reach her second Wimbledon final.

“She was just better there today,” Safarova said.  “We had a really close first set; second set she was just a step better.

“So it was a good run for me.  I mean, it’s the best result of my career.  She’s my friend, so once the match was done I just wished her all the best.  I hope she’s going to win it.”

“Today, of course, to play Lucie on the Centre Court in the semifinal of Wimbledon, it’s never easy,” Kvitova said.  “I did everything what I could.  I mean, I was just very happy after that.

“I mean, it’s still one more to come.  I want to be focused on that now.”

“I think these three years (since winning Wimbledon) was really up and down during the season,” the 24-year-old said.  “I knew that a lot of people are expecting from me something more than I did probably.

“But on the other side, I was still in the top 10 and I did everything what I could.  I was practicing very hard and everything.  But it’s never easy with the girls obviously.

“Yeah, was a lot of positive things I got, but definitely when I won here 2011 I needed to change a little bit myself on the court and off the court, as well, to used to the pressure, media, and everything like that.”

THE CHAMPIONSHIPS – WIMBLEDON, GREAT BRITAIN
$ 18,575,979
JUNE 23-JULY 5, 2014

RESULTS – JULY 3, 2014
Singles – Semifinals
(13) Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) d. (3) Simona Halep (ROU) 76(5) 62
(6) Petra Kvitova (CZE) d. (23) Lucie Safarova (CZE) 76(6) 61

Doubles – Quarterfinals
(2) Errani/Vinci (ITA/ITA) d. (6) Barty/Dellacqua (AUS/AUS) 64 26 60
(9) Hlavackova/Zheng (CZE/CHN) d. Pavlyuchenkova/Safarova (RUS/CZE) 61 46 63
(14) Babos/Mladenovic (HUN/FRA) d. (11) Kudryavtseva/Rodionova (RUS/AUS) 63 26 64

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In a Battle of Past Champions, Venus Willams Loses to Petra Kvitova at Wimbledon

 

(June 27, 2014) WIMBLEDON – 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova beat five-time champion Venus Williams for the fourth time in five matches moving into the round of 16 with a 5-7, 7-6, 7-5 victory on Friday on Centre Court.

The 34-year-old Williams dismissed any talk of retirement in the near future.

“People have been trying to retire me since I was like 25,” she said. “For some reason in tennis we always do that to our players.  It’s weird.  We don’t encourage them to stick around.  It’s like, Get out of here.

“So I’m not getting out of here.  I think this year has been a great year for me.  I’ve had some tough losses, but I’ve learned a lot from them.  I’m finding my way back on my feet.

“I’m proud of myself for what I’m achieving on the court..”

Williams was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease a few years ago.

“I want to win Grand Slams,” she said. “Everybody does. No one gives it to you. They snatch it away and say, `Mine.’ That’s what I’ll have to do is snatch it, say, `Mine,’ too, growl if need be. `’

“She’s doing good job, Kvitova said.  “Of course, for us it’s always tough to see the opponent who is really trying and fighting.

“She’s a huge player, big champion.  So we all have respect to her, definitely.”

“Definitely I’m pleased that I won, the Czech added.  “I’m in the second week of the Grand Slam, so that’s really nice to have this feeling.

“I’m pleased with my performance.  I mean, I don’t think that I was better player today actually all the match, but I just keep it and try to win the important points in the tiebreak, then I just tried to wait for some breakpoint.

“Yeah, of course, I won three matches here on the grass.  I love it.  I will try not to be the end.”

Kvitova will play Shuai Peng next in the fourth round.

 

THE CHAMPIONSHIPS – WIMBLEDON, GREAT BRITAIN
$ 18,575,979
JUNE 23-JULY 5, 2014

RESULTS – JUNE 27, 2014
Women’s
Singles – Third Round
Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) d. (2) Li Na (CHN) 76(5) 76(5)
(4) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) d. (Q) Michelle Larcher de Brito (POR) 62 60
(6) Petra Kvitova (CZE) d. (30) Venus Williams (USA) 57 76(2) 75
(23) Lucie Safarova (CZE) d. (10) Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) 64 62
(16) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) d. (Q) Ana Konjuh (CRO) 63 60
(22) Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) d. Caroline Garcia (FRA) 75 63
Peng Shuai (CHN) d. Lauren Davis (USA) 06 63 63
(Q) Tereza Smitkova (CZE) d. Bojana Jovanovski (SRB) 46 76(5) 108

Singles – Second Round
(3) Simona Halep (ROU) d. (Q) Lesia Tsurenko (UKR) 63 46 64
Belinda Bencic (SUI) d. (Q) Victoria Duval (USA) 64 75

Doubles – Second Round
(11) Kudryavtseva/An.Rodionova (RUS/AUS) d. Keys/Riske (USA/USA) 62 62
(12) Medina Garrigues/Shvedova (ESP/KAZ) d. Diyas/Mayr-Achleitner (KAZ/AUT) 60 60
Pennetta/Stosur (ITA/AUS) d. (13) Hradecka/Krajicek (CZE/NED) 75 63
Aoyama/Voracova (JPN/CZE) d. (15) Huber/Raymond (USA/USA) 06 76(5) 64
(16) Muguruza/Suárez Navarro (ESP/ESP) d. Koukalova/Niculescu (CZE/ROU) 62 46 64

Doubles – First Round
(5) Makarova/Vesnina (RUS/RUS) d. Begu/Knapp (ROU/ITA) 67(8) 64 64
(7) Kops-Jones/Spears (USA/USA) d. (WC) Broady/Daniilidou (GBR/GRE) 76(3) 75
(Q) Kichenok/Kichenok (UKR/UKR) d. Davis/Puig (USA/PUR) 62 76(5)
(Q) Gajdosova/Ar.Rodionova (AUS/AUS) d. Schiavone/Soler-Espinosa (ESP/ESP) 63 36 63

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Ana Ivanovic Beaten in Third Round of Roland Garros

Lucie Safarova

Lucie Safarova

(May 31, 2014) 2008 French Open champion Ana Ivanovic’s dreams of a second Paris title were dashed on Satruday, when the 11th seed was beaten by 23rd seed Lucie Safarova 6-3, 6-3. It was Ivanovic’s fifth straight loss to the Czech woman. Safarova is now 5-2 against the Serb.

Safarova will play 2009 French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova who had to battle past fifth seed Petra Kvitova 6-7 (3), 6-1, 9-7 in an over three-hour match.

Fifteenth seed Sloane Stephens advanced into the French Open’s fourth round for the third straight time with a 6-3, 6-4 win over No. 22 Ekaterina Makarova.

Stephens will face off against No. 4 Simona Halep for a place in the quarterfinals. Neither woman has ever reached the final eight in Paris.

Due to the upsets on No. 1 Serena Williams, No. 2 Li Na and No. 3 Agnieszska Radwanska, Halep is the top women’s seed remaining at Roland Garros.

“That’s a surprise for everyone,” said Halep. “Is not easy to be the (top) seeded now, during the tournament. But I try just to keep — the pressure (away).”

 

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Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova Set Up Semifinal Meeting at Sony Open

 

(March 25, 2014) It will be a Serena Williams versus Maria Sharapova semifinal at the Sony Open as both women defeated quarterfinal opponents in straight sets.

No. 1 Serena Williams made quick work of No. 5 seed Angelique Kerber 6-2, 6-2, winning 62% of all of the points in the match,  in the first match of the night session on Tuesday.

Williams’s match demonstrated total dominance, unlike her last two matches in which she was pushed to three sets.

“I’m playing a little better,” Williams said.  “I had to play better.  As the tournament progresses you can’t get worse, you have to get better.

“I’m happy to be doing a little better.”

The 17-time major winner still is not totally happy yet.

“The good news is I can play better, so that keeps me really happy, actually.  “So knowing that I can still play several levels higher is good for me.”

No. 4 seed Maria Sharapova came back from a break down in the first set in a rematch of the 2011 Wimbledon final to top Petra Kvitova 7-5, 6-1. She won 11 of the last 13 games.

“I started getting more chances as we played more games in the first set,” Sharapova said.

“Little by little I started seeing more opportunities and started getting myself back in the points and playing my game, playing well, going inside the baseline.

“You never are sure until you finish the match and you win the last point, but I really felt like I started doing the right things.”

Sharapova, always a bridesmaid but never a bride in Miami – she’s been a finalist five times has never won a Sony Open title.

It will be Williams against Sharapova for a place in the Key Biscayne final. Williams holds an overwhelming record against the Russian 15-2. The last time Sharapova beat Williams was back in 2004.

“Well, when you’re playing, you know, champions, you have to play your best.” Williams said.  “So she always plays her best and her heart out against me.

“We just have to bring the best because we both are really good players.”

“It’s no secret that she’s been a big challenge of mine, an opponent that obviously I would love to beat,” Sharapova said.  “There are certainly, you know, ways that I need to step up in certain situations that I haven’t been able to do in the past against her.

“But it’s great that I have come to that stage and have the opportunity to play her again.”

“I love playing her,” said the six-time Sony Open winner Williams about playing Sharapova.  “I really do.  Doesn’t matter what surface or anything.  She’s one of my favorite people to play. And so I think that helps, too, when you’re like playing people.  I think it just gets you really pumped.”

“I feel in the last few times I have played I have had my chances and opportunity and something that maybe I didn’t quite create, you know, say, a couple years ago,” Sharapova said to media.

“It’s about taking those.  Someone, an opponent that plays with so much confidence and so much power, you really need to take those few opportunities that you have.”

 

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Ready, Set, WTA All-Access at the BNP Paribas Open

 

(March 5, 2014) INDIAN WELLS, California – The top eight women’s seeds held court on Wednesday taking questions from the media during roundtable interviews at the BNP Paribas Open. Here are a few notes and quotes from session:

Aga Radwanska

Agnieszka Radwanska and the Cheesecake Factory

Radwanska professed her love for the Cheesecake Factory. She has inked a multi-year agreement with her favorite restaurant. She’ll be sporting the logo on her visor when she plays.

Radwanska says that she can complain about her season so far – two semifinals including the Australian Open.

Last year Radwanska became a blonde and is back to being a brunette. When asked about the change back to her natural hair color, she said “I prefer the dark hair. It was good to change sometimes.”

LI Na media crush

Li Na is the No. 1 Seed

With Serena Williams absent from Indian Wells, Li Na holds the mantle as the No. 1 seed for the tournament. “Feel pretty good,” Li Na said about having the top spot. This is the first time that she’s been the top seed at WTA Premier Mandatory event.

So what’s life after winner her second major like? She says not much different. “I signed a lot of autographs. But not contracts, OK? So looking forward to signing a lot of contracts,” she said.

 

Kerber

Angelique Kerber – Germany’s Fed Cup team members get a Porsche

So what does she think makes her game special? She says she has the ability to read her opponent’s game, and her defense – how she runs and fights for every point. “That’s what I have inside,” she said. As to what she thinks she needs to improve, she says that she needs to play more “aggressive” tennis.

Kerber spot fondly of being a member of Germany’s Fed Cup. She says they are all friends so everyone wants to play and there is a nice incentive – each Fed Cup team member gets a Porsche. Porsche is the sponsor of the Fed Cup team in Germany.

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova NBC Correspondent

“Carrying the torch was the biggest honor I could have received,” said  former Sochi native Sharapova in choosing between carrying the Olympic torch or Russia’s flag at the Olympic games.

In addition to her torch carrying duty, Sharapova was a correspondent for NBC during the Sochi games. “It was really fun,” said the Russian.

Asked if she would be interested in media in the future she said, ” I am not sure. I had a great time and I don’t know if that’s something I would do for long periods of time. I love that challenge of it.

“We shot for so many hours for a three minute clip.” She emphasized how it takes a lot of time to put a short piece together in television between shooting and travel time.

Her Sochi experience was a great one, but she’s happy to get back to the court.

 

Petra Kvitova

Petra Kvitova

When asked about whether she feels that most of the time her matches are on her racquet, she responded, When I’m playing, I’m feeling it’s about me and I’m playing aggressive myself, that’s most(ly) about me.” Not all of the time is a happy end.” Kvitova admits that she’s OK with her game but she has some  more expectations of herself.

Playing aggressively comes natural to the 2011 Wimbledon champion.

 

Halep

Simona Halep is a first-timer at the WTA All-Access

Simona Halep’s ranking has been on the rise for the past few years. Last year only No. 1 Serena Williams claimed more titles than the Romanian during the year.

To what does Halep attribute that success to? “I was more aggressive starting  with last year in Rome, becasue I played really well there. Before I had (a) back injury and it was very hard and I couldn’t play at my level but after that I did really well.”

” I am very happy to be top ten . It’s amazing. Now I can see that I can play the highest level in tennis so I want to continue to be focused.”

She admits that she enjoys the perks of being in the top ten. “I have the bigger car,” she said. As a top ten player it entitles her to a bigger car at tournaments. She enjoys driving and one of the reasons she loves this tournament is that she can drive.

She recently purchased a Range Rover back home in Romania.

Halep’s biggest triumph came in Doha last month, where she beat three top ten players for the title. ” After Australia I thought I could be at highest level of tennis, now I am really happy that I can play in top ten.”

 

Jelena Jankovic

Jelena Jankovic models new French Open Fila dress

Jelena Jankovic walked into her roundtable session modeling her new Fila outfit for the French Open accompanied by the designer Ginny Hilfiger.

Jankovic reacted to her former coach Nick Bollettieri being named for induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. “Nick is an amazing person,” Jankovic said. “He’s the one who helped me quite a  lot, you know when it comes to my game brought me a lot at young age.”

“He helped me to believe in myself,” said the former No. 1.

 

 

azarenka-cincy-slider-1

Victoria Azarenka is coming back from a foot injury

By viewing her practices on Monday, one could tell that No. 4 Victoria Azarenka was in some type of pain. She told media that her foot injury had her in a walking boot for three weeks last month. She confessed that she’s only been able to practice for less than a week.

“When you hear for the first time from the doctor that you have to wear a boot for three weeks and the tournament is four-and-a-half weeks away you’re like ‘OK, let’s see how it goes,’” she said. “I just wanted to stay positive and do the best job as possible.”

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Venus Williams Routs Ivanovic, Radwanska and Kvitova Upset in Dubai

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(February 19, 2014) DUBAI – Venus Williams gained some revenge for her loss to Ana Ivanovic in the Auckland final last month by routing the Serbian 6-2, 6-1 at the Dubai Tennis Championships on Wednesday.

“I learned a lot from that match,” Williams said of the Auckland loss “I definitely think I approached this match differently.

“I have improved a lot since then, too.  I have had to take some tough losses, but I have learned from them, and, you know, made them constructive.  That’s what I’m trying to do each time.

Ivanovic admitted that having played late the previous evening might have influenced her performance. But so did how well Venus Williams played.

“It’s hard to get much sleep when you finish that late and that kind of match, too,” said Ivanovic. “But she started really firing, you know, from the first moment on. It was just really hard. I tried to be aggressive and to put her under pressure, but I was just making way too many errors today.”

“I’m just trying to play well every day, take one point at a time and learn from my mistakes every match, try to go out there relaxed with a clear mind, Williams said.  “That’s what I’m trying to do.

“I think I’m playing smarter.  Yeah.  But I just want to keep playing better.

“I really expected a lot closer, to be honest, but, you know, like I said, she played well and it really wasn’t my day,” Ivanovic said.

“I definitely think she was a lot more aggressive (versus in the Auckland final).  She was stepping in the court way more, coming to the net more often.

“You know, she served well I thought in Auckland, too, but today I just felt she was putting more pressure on me.”

Venus teamed with sister Serena in doubles but losing 6-4, 4-6, 10-4 to Australian Open finalists Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina.

 

Carla Suarez Navarro photo ©2013 Regi Varghese

Carla Suarez Navarro photo ©2013 Regi Varghese

 

This also marked a day where second, third and fourth seeds all lost including defending champion Petra Kvitova.

 

Petra Kvitova fell in her opening match 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 to Carla Suarez Navarro.

Kvitova dominated the opening set against Suarez Navarro, led 4-2 in the second and served for the match at 5-4 in the third. But her persistent opponent refused to concede and eventually claimed the win in a tiebreak.

 

“When I was leading in the second set, I lost very badly my serve, and I think that from that moment I was like a little bit mentally down and I was trying to come back,” said Kvitova. “I was close, but still she won the second set and it was tough to come back again in the third. In the tiebreak I just made two easy mistakes, and I think that was the thing what she did better.”

 

Qualifier Flavia Pennetta stunned second seed and world No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 6-1.

“The ball was really flying,” said Radwanska. “I didn’t really feel the ball today at all. I think she was using the wind much, much better than I did. The conditions for me are tough. When I don’t feel the ball, it’s not good.”

Pennetta had lost her last three matches against Radwanska.

“Sometimes when you play with a player like Agnieszka it’s not easy because the ball, it always come back,” said Pennetta. “You have the feeling like you cannot win any points because it’s like a wall, completely. So you’re starting to be a little bit frustrating and starting to make so many mistakes, and today I just try to stay there every point, just to play every point in the same way, don’t go away.”

Fourth seed and 2013 Dubai finalist Sara Errani was beaten 6-2, 5-7, 6-1 by Sorana Cirstea.

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February 17-February 22, 2014
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Results – Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Singles – Second Round
(Q) Flavia Pennetta (ITA) d. (2) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) 64 61
Carla Suárez Navarro (ESP) d. (3) Petra Kvitova (CZE) 16 64 76(4)
Sorana Cirstea (ROU) d. (4) Sara Errani (ITA) 62 57 61
(5) Jelena Jankovic (SRB) d. Lucie Safarova (CZE) 75 64
(8) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) d. (Q) Annika Beck (GER) 64 64
Alizé Cornet (FRA) d. Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) 63 64
(WC) Venus Williams (USA) d. Ana Ivanovic (SRB) 62 61

Doubles – First Round
(2) Makarova/Vesnina (RUS/RUS) d. (WC) Williams/Williams (USA/USA) 64 46 104 (Match TB)
(WC) Pennetta/Stosur (ITA/AUS) d. (3) Peschke/Srebotnik (CZE/SLO) 61 16 106 (Match TB)

Order Of Play – Thursday, February 20, 2014
Centre Court (from 14.00hrs)
1. Venus Williams vs. Flavia Pennetta
2. Caroline Wozniacki vs. Sorana Cirstea
3. Serena Williams vs. Jelena Jankovic (NB 19.00hrs)
4. Carla Suárez Navarro vs. Alizé Cornet

Court 1 (from 14.00hrs)
1. Raymond/Zhang vs. Hlavackova/Safarova
2. Errani/Vinci vs. Kops-Jones/Spears
3. Kudryavtseva/Rodionova vs. Makarova/Vesnina
4. Pennetta/Stosur vs. Groenefeld/Rosolska

 

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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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