May 30, 2017

Serena Williams Moves into US Open Semifinals with Three-set Win over Sister Venus

(September 8, 2015) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – It was Serena Williams versus Venus Williams part 27 as the sisters battled it out on Arthur Ashe Stadium on Tuesday night at the US Open.

Serena kept her hopes for the Grand Slam alive with a 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 win over Venus.

In the first set Serena broke Venus’ serve twice to capture the set 6-2.

In the second set, errors crept into Serena’s game and the 23rd seed Venus ran up a 5-1 score. Serena hit 3 double faults of her total of five in the match, while Venus continued to hit powerful groundstrokes, shot for shot with her sister. Serena saved two set points, but could not save a third, set to Venus 6-1.

In the third set Serena broke in the second a game and held the rest of the way for 6-3.

At the net, the two sisters embraced and Venus said “I’m so happy for you,” to Serena.

“I think I will look back on it fondly,” Serena said of the hug at the net. “It means a lot to me. Obviously we are very, very tough competitors on the court, but once the match is over and the second it’s done, you know, we’re sisters, we’re roommates, and we’re all that.”

“It’s really great to see her do so well,” Serena continued. “She was at an unbelievable level today. Down to the match point it just was not easy. It’s probably the toughest match I have played in a really, really, really long time where I wasn’t actually beating myself. I was out there facing an incredibly tough opponent.

“Yeah, so it was just seeing and knowing that she has that level is so good and inspiring, as well, and hopefully it’s encouraging for her, too. I think against any other player she for sure would have won.”

“I think she is the best ever because of the level of competition that she’s faced,” Venus said of her sister. “There have been some unbelievable players in the past, but I have played in this, you know, seems like multiple eras at this point.

“I have played the best from different eras, as well. I have seen the level of competitiveness go up, and I have seen players who are ranked 100 who didn’t believe they could win a match against you to this point fight you tooth and nail and try to take you down.

“So that didn’t happen when I started. So just to be able to win at this level, I think that’s what makes her the best.”

Serena is now 16-11 against Venus, 9-5 in majors.

Serena is on a 33-match winning streak in majors, a 26-match winning streak at the US Open.

Serena hit 35 winners to 35 unforced errors. She won 9 of 11 points at the net and was 3 for 6 in break point chances.

Serena will play Roberta Vinci for a spot in the final.

Defending US Open champion Marin Cilic was pushed to five sets by 19th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (3), 6-4 in his quarterfinal match which lasted almost four hours on Tuesday.

“He just hit the ball a little bit more properly than me at the right moment, and that was a huge difference at the end, because he just made it,” Tsonga said. “He just made it.”

“A big mental fight,” Cilic said after the match, “especially after losing that fourth set.”

Cilic talked about regrouping after failing to close out the match  in the fourth set: “Well, at the tiebreak when I was going down a bit with the score I was, you know, obviously disappointed with that.

“At that point I was mentally on a scale either left or right. I’m going to break or, you know, either — I was asking myself, Am I going to change anything for the fifth set if it comes, or then I’m going to keep going with the same game plan?

“Then I decided to, you know, stay mentally tough. You know, I was looking, thinking about third and fourth set. I didn’t play poorly. You know, Jo came up with amazing shots in the critical points, especially on all three match points that I had he played great points.

“I, you know, could have done of course something differently. Could have played some shots differently and pick different spots. But the way I was playing them, I didn’t choose any bad shots or that I played bad points.

“Just kept going with it. Sticked with my plan and stayed mentally tough and was very difficult day. Very demanding. Very, very hot, and of course a lot on the line for the match. Obviously with emotions and mentally was very exhausting.

“So at the fifth set I was, you know, of course feeling a bit tired, but I was able to go through it.”

“Jo just came up with amazing shots,” Cilic said.

The Croatian will face  No. 1 Novak Djokovic. Djokovic reached his ninth US Open semifinal in a row defeating 18th seed Feliciano Lopez of Spain 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (2).

“I thought I played a pretty good first set, and then after that, you know, I was just trying to hang in there and wait for the opportunities,” Djokovic said. “I played good beginning of the third. Fourth was anybody’s game, really. Didn’t have many chances on his service games.”

“I started to feel the end of the fourth like my serve, finding the range on my serve, which wasn’t working at all in the first part of the match. Obviously when you start serving better, more accurate, higher percent of first serves in, you feel more confident.

“So that allowed me to kind of relax on the returns. Return points I managed to anticipate well. On 2-1 and 3-1, both of his first serves I anticipated well. Returned pretty good and, you know, allowed myself to make two mini breaks, which is a big advantage in the tiebreak.”

Djokovic has never lost to Cilic and was asked about Cilic’s confidence.

 “Because of the fact that he won his first Grand Slam title last year in New York. He hasn’t lost a match, you know, 12, 13 matches in a row, so I’m sure that he feels confident. He won today a really close match. A couple of five-setters he had already in this tournament.

“But he has a big serve. I think around 30 aces he had today, so the serve gets him out of trouble. I know him very well. I have played with him many, many times. We are great friends. Great guy.

“I know what to do, and I’m opening I can execute the game plan obviously and play my best.”

“Well, there are different scenarios that you can predict. Obviously when the moments are kind of tight and important during the match, most of the players have certain patterns of the serve and of the game.

“So you try to analyze that, try and go back to those matches that I have played against him this year and other years and get myself ready.

“Of course I’m sure he’s not going to start coming to the net after every ball, but I’m sure he’s gonna try to be aggressive, going to try to take his chances. That’s how he won last year US Open. I watched him play. He played great. Best tennis of his life.

“This is where he loves playing. He loves the conditions on Arthur Ashe. As I said, I’m going to try to use that advantage and having success against him in the past and to my favor.”

The two other men’s quarterfinals matches on the other half of the men’s draw are on Wednesday. They will feature No. 2 Roger Federer vs. No. 12 Richard Gasquet of France, and No. 5 Stan Wawrinka vs. No. 15 Kevin Anderson of South Africa.

Williams will play Roberta Vinci in her semifinal. At age 32, this will be the Italian’s first major semifinal. Vinci survived an ailing Kristina Mladenovic 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.

Vinci, ranked at No. 43 is playing her 44th major. Only Elena Likhovtseva had played in more majors, 46 before reaching the 2005 French Open semifinal.

“I’m so happy, Vinci said. “I would like to enjoy my semifinal on Thursday. I did not expect one semifinal at the US Open, so I’m really happy. Now I enjoy my day. Tomorrow rest and play my game on Thursday.

“I have nothing to lose. We will see.”

“Definitely a little bit more old school, but also a really great matchup, because it’s fun to see people that can still come to the net and still hit slice and still hit one-handers,” Serena said about her next challenger. “It’s different. It’s good for tennis.”

Serena stands just two victories away from winning the Grand Slam and her 22nd major, tying her with Steffi Graf for second on the all-time major list, two behind Margaret Court.

 

 

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Peng Shuai Notches Second Straight Upset of a Seed at US Open

Shuai Peng

Shuai Peng

(August 29, 2014) FLUSHING MEADOWS – Peng Shuai has knocked out another seeded player at the US Open to reach just her second straight major tournament fourth round.

On Wednesday she dismissed No. 4 seed Agnieszka Radwanska, and on Friday Peng defeated 28 seed Roberta Vinci 6-4, 6-3.

The No. 39-ranked Peng will play the winner of 14 seed Lucie Safarova or 22 seed Alize Cornet in an effort to try to earn a berth in her first Grand Slam quarterfinal.

“Big challenge,” Peng said of her next match. “I know I never pass it. And always like maybe — always different player. Also like I think for myself I need to (have) more courage, be more like stronger, and then try my best. Because now is I don’t know who I gonna be play for next round. Either way Cornet or Safarova. Both is really good player. Safarova is lefty. Sometimes it’s like different. I know this year she doing really good, you know. I will try my best.”

Peng is carrying the flag for China at the US Open with Li Na out due to injury.

Former US Open Finalist Jelena Jankovic dusted Johanna Larsson 6-1, 6-0. Larsson upset Sloane Stephens on Wednesday.

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Hometown Girl Simona Halep Makes Good and Wins Bucharest Title

 

 

 

(July 13, 2014) In a battle between the top seeds, No. 1 Simona Halep of Romania make her home country happy, by dismissing second seed Roberta Vinci to win the Bucharest Open final 6-1, 6-3 in 70 minutes on Sunday for her eighth WTA title.

Halep was born in Constanța, Romania.

No. 3 Halep raised her head-to-head record to 4-2 against Vinci with the win. The 22-year-old Halep has now won 8 career WTA titles. She was a finalist at the French Open and reached the semifinals of the Wimbledon. She is also No. 2 on the Road To Singapore leaderboard, 11 points behind Maria Sharapova.

“I really wanted to play in this tournament and to win it. Today’s final was a very emotional one,” Halep said. “The crowd was amazing and I really want to thank everybody who played a part in the tournament. What I wish for now is to get to Singapore and do an equally good job there. I want to play every match and every tournament to reach as high a ranking as possible.”

“I knew ever since yesterday that it was going to be difficult,” Vinci said. “Simona is an incredible tennis player and she has a phenomenal game. I gave it my best and I actually managed to get to 2-0 in the second set but she was too strong. However, it was nice to receive the support of the crowd, and I am happy to have played my first singles final of the year in here.”

The Romanians were also treated to a doubles win by their own in Elena Bogdan and Alexandra Cadantu beat Turkish-Slovenian pair Cagla Buyukakcay and Andreja Klepac 6-4, 3-6, 10-5 for their first-ever WTA title.

 

 

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Richard Gasquet and Flavia Pennetta Move into US Open Quarterfinals

 

 

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(September 4, 2013) Richard Gasquet and Flavia Pennetta advanced to the semifinals of the US Open on Wednesday.

No. 8 seed Gasquet from France booked the first place in the men’s semifinals with a 6-3, 6-1, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3 win over fourth seed David Ferrer in 3 hours, 23 minutes. The Frenchman will play the winner of the all-Spanish match – Rafael Nadal versus Tommy Robredo in the semifinals.

Gasquet came into the match having saved a match point in a five-set win over Milos Raonic. Coming into the match Gasquet was 6-12 in five-set matches while Ferrer was 19-9.

Despite taking a two set lead, one can never count out David Ferrer.

“Even if I was leading two sets to love I knew it was David Ferrer, Gasquet said.  “I knew he’s a big fighter so I knew it was not over.  He played well in the start in the third set.”

“Fourth set I played well too, but he was a little bit better than me.  So I knew I had to keep my serve in the fifth, and that’s what I did.  I did a bad game at 3‑2 for me, and then I was leading 4‑1.

“I knew I was so close to win this match, and I fight a lot to finish.  Especially at 5‑3 I was a little bit nervous to go in the semis of US Open, and I managed to do it.  It’s a big victory for me.”

“Well, I think Richard, he played very good game with his backhand, serving very good in important moments,” Ferrer said.  “Maybe in the first and second set I didn’t play so good.  I was a little bit tired.

But, anyway, I tried to do my best.  I fight until the last ball, and nothing else, no?  I think in the fifth set when he made me the break, I played I believe very bad in that game, no, with three mistakes easy.

But fifth set with one break down is difficult to come back again, because Richard is a top‑10 player.”

“The last time I beat him, I was 13 years old,” Gasquet said about Nadal during his on court interview. “I’ve beaten him one time in my life.”

“He was already fighting a lot already, already running so much, and I remember I won maybe 6‑4 in a set, and I told my father after, He’s a big fighter.

“I didn’t lie; I was true.  In the future, this one is biggest player in the world in the history.  So for sure I won that time at 13 years old, but since this match I didn’t…”

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As for the first match in Ashe Stadium, it was a showdown of a pair of Italians who have known each other since childhood. No. 83 Pennetta, once in the top 10, beat No. 10 seed Roberta Vinci 6-4, 6-1.

 “I think in the beginning we didn’t play good tennis,” Pennetta said.  I was tight; she was tight, also.

“When I won the first set I just relax a little bit and tried to play better.

But the day was tough for both of us.”

“I know how she plays, she knows everything of me,” Pennetta said. “We get in the court, and I think today was more about inside, not about tennis. It was about how you play, how you feel in the court, and how can you handle the situation.”

Pennetta will play the winner of the match between No. 2 Victoria Azarenka and No. 48 Daniela Hantuchova. Pennetta has knocked out four straight seeds – (4) Sara Errani, (21) Simona Halep,  (27) Svetlana Kuznetsova and (10) Vinci

“It’s good to stay physical, in a good way, and play this good tennis at this age, of course,” Pennetta said of her play. “I’m proud of (myself) now. I’m 31, and physically, I feel good finally. I’m in the first semifinal in Grand Slam. There is nothing to say more.”

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Roberta Vinci Beats Camila Giorgi and Rain to Make US Open Quarterfinals Along with Countrywoman Flavia Pennetta

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(September 2, 2013) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – One women’s quarterfinal will have a pair of Italians squaring off against each other. Roberta Vinci and Flavia Pennetta advanced to the US Open quarterfinals on Monday after straight set victories.

Vinci, the 10th seed, beat countrywoman qualifier Camila Giorgi, who upset sixth seed Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 6-2 in 67 minutes. also beating the 4 and a half hour rain delay.

“I’m happy,” said the 30-year-old Vinci.“ I knew that it was a tough match.  She played good.  She play always strong, flat, and I knew that I had to play ‑‑ I have to change a lot of my focus.”

Vinci said that she knows that at 30, she’s not young, but she enjoys playing. “I’m happy, and I try to stay focused every single day,” she said.

Her 21-year-old opponent Giorgi who came into the tournament ranked at 136, reflected on the match:” I think it wasn’t my day.”

“Was two great weeks coming back from two months without playing, so I’m happy I came back to play.

“And I played really good level.  Now I will still keep going and play more tournaments.”

No. 83 Pennetta was on the brink of losing the second set, against Simona Halep who had a set point as the rains came. After the rain delay the Italian recovered to beat No. 21 from Romania 6-2, 7-6 (3).

“Of course, this place for me, it’s special,” Pennetta said.  “But I can tell you the first day, when I played the first match, I didn’t expect to be here today.”

For the 31-year-old Pennetta she advanced to her first major semifinal since 2011. Vinci made the quarterfinals of the US Open last year where she lost to countrywoman Sara Errani.

“I think is going to be just a really tough match for both of us,” Pennetta said of her match with Vinci. We know each other really well.  I know her since I think 20 years or more because we live almost in the same place.  Just 35, 45 kilometer my house from her house.

“So is going to be really I think nice for us because one of us is going to have the chance to be in the semifinal.  In the other way, it’s always not easy to play with your friend.  But she do it yesterday and the day before with Knapp, I did it with Sara the second day, so we used to that and we try to play just tennis and then that’s it.”

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Serena Williams Breezes Through Vinci, Sets Up Quarterfinal with Kuznetsova

SerenaWilliamsFaceoff3 - Copy

By Ros Satar

(June 2, 2013) PARIS – Serena Williams notched another straight sets victory over Roberta Vinci 6-1, 6-3, before trying out more French on the Court Phillipe Chatrier crowd, although, to be fair, many of the games were well fought and close.

 

Vinci was a lot more competitive in the second set, holding her serve much more capably throughout the second set, including a half volley winner.

That was the trigger, though, for Williams to change through her gears, responding with a both a break and a hold to love to set up an quarter final bout with 2009 champion, Svetlana Kuznetsova.

 

At times looking at those Vinci winners in disbelief, and at times tried by her forehand being magnetically drawn to the net, Williams was happy to continue her current run of form.

 

“Every match I’m really I think focused for the whole period of time, the whole time,” said the world No. 1.

 

“I think I just really ‑‑ I really want it, every match.”

 

Williams had a game plan for what Vinci would throw at her, but some of the best shots in the match were with both of them up at the net.

 

Williams explained: “You go crosscourt, down the line, you can go lob, go at their feet.

 

“You have so many options, and then you have to be ready for the next shot.

 

“I think it’s fun.  It makes it really fast and fun for me.”

 

Looking ahead to her quarter-final with Svetlana Kuznetsova, Williams believed it will be one to watch.

 

She said: “The last time we played here she won, so that will probably get her pumped up and she’s on a comeback.

“She has nothing to lose but everything to gain.  She also wants to do well, and she’s won this tournament before.”

 

Perhaps the thing that has challenged Williams the most (outside of the weather) is speaking French for her post-match on-court interview.

 

She negotiated questions about being in the second week of the slam, and how she felt about her form and, it has to be said, seemed to answer fairly competently.

 

She freely admitted, though that it is harder to conduct her interview in French, than to close out a match.

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