October 6, 2015

Wuhan Open – Sharapova Retires From Match with Arm Injury; Bouchard Pulls Out of Tournament

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova

(September 28, 2015) Maria Sharapova’s comeback after being off the tour since Wimbledon, was derailed when the Russian retired with an arm injury in the third set of her first match at the Wuhan Open. The world No. 3 had not played for three months due to a leg injury.

Sharapova was leading Czech Barbora Strycova 7-6 (1), 6-7 (4), 2-1 when she withdrew from the match.

“I’ve had my share of serious injuries, and I know this is far from it, something I just have to take care of,” she said.

“I was really happy to be back on the court,” said Sharapova. “I’ve gone through the injury and not playing and missing a Grand Slam, going through the rehab, going through training, this is really the moment that you work for. I enjoyed that feeling again.

“That’s why it’s unfortunate to have to stop from that because you always build and you get the rust out and you hope you grow as the tournament goes along, but not in my case this tournament. Of course, it’s not the best way to end for my fans.  But I know that this tournament is here for many years and I will still have the opportunity to come back.”

Canadian Eugenie Bouchard withdrew from the tournament due to the concussion she suffered during the U.S. Open.

In other injury-related news – No. 28 Sabine Lisicki will be taking the rest of the year off to heal her knee.

The German said on social media: “unfortunately my knee is not ready and I will not compete at tournaments this season.”


Karolina Pliskova and Angelique Kerber Reach Birmingham Final


Angeligue Kerber

Angelique Kerber

By Ros Satar

(June 20, 2015) BIRMINGHAM, England – It was touch and go what was the bigger adversary on Saturday – the opponents facing each other over the net, or the weather conditions that varied frustratingly from blue skies and the hint of sunshine, to thundering rain that sounded like wild applause within the confines of the media centre.


First up on a heavily disrupted schedule was Kristina Mladenovic and Karolina Pliskova, who had charmingly paired up to practice ahead of their match. Mladenovic admitted that the pair had known each other for years and enjoyed each other’s company off the courts.


It was Pliskova who was the more business like, breaking straight away, consolidating for a 3-1 lead before the first of the rain interruptions. Despite neither player being keen to try and play through a steady drizzle, it took a while before they were brought off for a spell.


Coming out for the restart, Pliskova wasted no time in breaking again swiftly, and served out the first set to love.


Mladenovic was net ready to give up without a fight though, lifting her level despite another extremely heavy downpour, which resulted in a few hardy souls being asked to vacate the stands for fear of on-coming thunder and lightning.


It was the Frenchwoman who took the early break this rime, only to relinquish it straight away. The pair stayed tight together through to the middle of the tie-break where she even built up three set-points but a run of five points on the bounce saw Pliskova seal a place in her fourth final this year 6-2, 7-6 (6), and her first grass court final.


In fact before this week she had struggled to even put together back to back wins on grass, despite having a solid game for the surface.


“I think my game is good on grass. I don’t know why I didn’t have any good results before this,” she said. “I’m happy it’s coming now. For me it’s really important to play like this, especially ahead of Wimbledon. Hopefully I can have some good results there as well now.”


“The conditions were hard, and Kristina was playing really well, so the second set wasn’t easy at all,” Pliskova continued. “I started the match feeling great, and as it went on it was getting worse, actually. She was starting to play better and better, too, so I couldn’t be happier to make it through in two sets.”


She is now a win away from breaking the Top 10, when she faces Angelique Kerber, who extended her head-to-head against Fed Cup teammate Sabine Lisicki to 6-0 with a straight sets win 6-3, 6-3, despite the crowd largely pulling for the 2011 champion.



Kerber is on her best run at Edgbaston, having made it to the third round twice, and while Pliskova is in her first Premier-level final, Kerber will be gunning for her fourth Premier title.


The pair are tied in their head-to-head 2-2, although Pliskova has won their two most recent meetings – Nurnberg 2014 and Sydney 2015.


She said: “Pliskova is also playing very well, very tough, deep, and strong. So I think it will be like maybe similar like today, the match tomorrow. But of course every single match start from zero and it’s another day, another match. She has a strong serve as well, so I must be ready to return it very well.”


Kerber and Pliskova are scheduled on the Ann Jones Centre Court, at 1pm.


Ros Satar is a British sports journalist covering tennis, and can also be found at Britwatch Sports.


Birmingham Day 4 – Weeding Out the Field


By Ros Satar

(June 18, 2015) BIRMINGHAM, England – With seeds and home favourites having stumbled over the past few days in the Midlands, the championship is now largely on Simona Halep’s racquet to lose. Having come through a good brace of results now, she is putting what was ultimately a disappointing clay court season behind her and pushing on impressively on the grass.


After dashing British hopes in the second round, beating Naomi Broady 6-4, 6-2, she eased into the quarter-finals with a 50 minute workout over Klara Koukalova, 6-1, 6-3.


Having been usurped over the clay court season, where she was expected to shine, Halep was taking nothing for granted.


She said, after the match: “I expected a tough match because she plays very hard on grass with her type of game. It’s difficult to play her on this surface but I didn’t really want to think about that – I just came out here and played my game, played my style, stayed aggressive and especially served very well in the match.”


She later joined British No. 1 Heather Watson, who was edged out in her opening round in straight sets, and looking for some wins under her belt – but it certainly was not looking likely as the pair were swiftly battling against a 0-5 deficit in the opening set.


The first time pairing got themselves together in the second set, breaking for the advantage, and although they were pegged back, another break to the scratch twosome meant they could serve out for the set.


It was nip and tuck throughout the match tie-break until Watson and Halep close out a 1-6, 6-3, 10-7 win.


She said: “It was difficult at the beginning because, [it] was my first match on grass, doubles on grass. It’s not easy. The ball was coming very fast and I didn’t know where to hit because I saw both of them there. So it was really difficult, and I’m really happy we could win this match. It’s really important. It’s good we played first time together, so it’s a nice game.”


She continued: “I have no expectation from me this grass season, so I just want to go on court and play what I know. On clay I had pressure and I couldn’t handle it. I played bad and I couldn’t feel like relaxed on court. So that was the bad thing.


“So I just took some days off home and I said that I have to relax my mind and just going on court to play.”


With third seed Carla Suarez Navarro also posting a solid win today, the field looks set for a high quality finale, as the pair were joined by Angelique Kerber who got the better of former champion Jelena Jankovic, and fresh from her record breaking ace haul, Sabine Lisicki looks to be returning to the kind of grass form that put her in her maiden Grand Slam final.


The quarterfinals start on Friday at 11am.


Ros Satar is a British sports journalist covering tennis, and can also be found at Britwatch Sports.


Serena Williams Wins 700th Match; Will Face Simona Halep in Miami Open Semis

(April 1, 2015) Serena Williams overcame some inconsistent play to earn her 700th career win in defeating Sabine Lisicki 7-6 (4), 1-6, 6-3 to earn a spot the semifinals of the Miami Open on Wednesday.

Her 700th win puts the American in a very select club which has only eight members.

“I didn’t know I had 700 wins,” noted the 19-time major champion.

“So now I’m like I just want to keep going, doing the best that I can. Just staying positive and winning as much as I can.”

“I grew up playing tennis. I think my destiny was to play tennis,” Williams said. “I saw a picture where I was in a stroller on the tennis court.”

The seven-time Miami Open champion has now won 16 straight matches in Key Biscayne.

Williams made 51 unforced errors on the day, had some problems with the sun and served well below her usual efforts.

“I know today wasn’t my best day,” Williams said. “I just told myself, I’m not serving the way I normally serve and hitting the way I normally would hit, so at this point all I can do is just fight and try to give 200% instead of 100%.

“At the start of the third set it was definitely a little bit of a natural reaction. Obviously I don’t want to lose, or at least I want to try to do the best I can. She had a lot of momentum going into the third set after winning the second set, so I just wanted to stay strong, and basically hold my serve.”


Williams will battle No. 3 Simona Halep for a place in the final. The Romanian defeated American Sloane Stephens 6-1, 7-5.

“I look forward to it because I didn’t get to play her last time,” said Williams. “I was really disappointed to not be able to play and just not even be close to 100%.

“So, you know, I look forward to it this time. I’m just happy to be in the semis and still be alive somehow.”

Simona Halep

Simona Halep

“It will be a very nice match,” Halep said after he win. “I have to try everything. She is No. 1 in the world. She’s the best player. I have nothing to lose.”

“I have just to play aggressive like I did today at the beginning the match. I think this is the most important thing to have to the chance against Serena.

“So I just want recover my body until tomorrow and to be ready it hit the balls.”

No. 9 Andrea Petkovic will face No. 12 Carla Suarez Navarro in the other semifinal on Thursday.

Andy Murray fistpump

In men’s action, two-time Miami champion world No. 4 Andy Murray advanced to the men’s semifinals by rallying past unseeded youngster Dominic Thiem 3-6, 6-4, 6-1. Murray will play No. 8 Tomas Berdych next.

“At the beginning of the match I didn’t return well, especially returning his first serve,” said the Scot. That put me in sort of a defensive position a lot when he was serving. I ended up doing quite a lot of running there.

“Returned the second serve well, but everything he made a first serve I was returning short and he was dictating all of the points.

“I thought on my own serve was doing fine. I just played one bad game, and my return game let me down a bit in the first set.

“Then, again, the second set I went up and I was creating quite a lot of opportunities, which was good, but just not quite finding the right shot.

“I think in the third set the difference was really my returning. Returned his first serve extremely well. I put him on the back foot. When I was returning the first serve well I was able to dictate points when he was hitting his first serve, and on his second, and then on my first serve as well.

“So when you’re sort of able to control 75% of the points, makes a huge, huge difference. That’s the most pleasing part for me.”

It was a career week for the 21-year-old Thiem who reached his first Masters 1000 quarterfinal.

“Before this week I would have given a lot for the quarterfinals, but now of course in the first moment I’m a little bit disappointed, especially I won the first set,” said the Austrian. “I played a good match.

“But, yeah, I will leave Miami positive for sure and with a good feeling for the clay court season.”


Old Guard Shine Once More

Jelena Jankovic

Jelena Jankovic

(March 19, 2015) INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA – We could be heading for a Serena Williams / Jelena Jankovic final after the Serbian continued her strong run of form at the tournament she won back in 2010. Always reliable for a chuckle in press, she walked in with a heavy sigh as if she had lost, before joking about how she and Williams had been high-fiving each other at their achievements this week.


In a week where the WTA Rising Stars rose up for a fraction of a time to dispatch top seeds, the old guard have reasserted themselves, and we were almost entertaining three players over the age of 30 in the semi-finals.


Jankovic’s passage into the final was quick, as Ukrainian qualifier Lesia Tsurenko sadly struggled throughout their quarter-final with an ankle injury she picked up in the previous round, and retired to hand Jankovic a 6-1, 4-1 win.


“It’s never nice to end a match in that way. I think Lesia has had such a great tournament and she has beaten so many great players throughout the draw. I knew it was going to be a tough match today. In the first set I think we played well. I didn’t see some problems. I was feeling pretty good out there. I was playing my game and waiting for my chances to execute. I was solid.”


She continued: “In the second set she started limping and I saw that she had some problem. You know, that’s the time as well I lost a little bit of my focus. I was kind of looking at what she was doing. It was crucial for me to win that game at 2‑1, because who knows what would happen if it was 2‑All.”


Defending champion Flavia Pennetta was not so lucky though, starting slowly against Sabine Lisicki before finally starting to play a bit better. After her overwhelming emotions at beating World No. 2 Maria Sharapova, she had to battle once more from a set down to keep her defence alive, even saving a match point on the way to leveling the match.


The tides turned in the decider, as Pennetta had her chances to close out the match, but Lisicki, who had never won in Indian Wells, edged her for a place in the semi-final 6-4, 6-7 (3), 7-6 (4) . The crowds gathering for the night match were treated to a spectacle, and the semi-finals ought to live up to that as Serena Williams will face gritty Simona Halep in the final night match on Friday, with Jankovic and Lisicki opening up the show.


Meanwhile the men’s quarter-finals got underway with Andy Murray thwarting Feliciano Lopez. The Spaniard could not get a break (quite literally) as Murray quietly and efficiently dismantled his serve and rendered his coming forward moot winning 6-3, 6-4.


He explained: “I don’t have as much trouble with the lefties just because I grew up playing with one, and that’s obviously one of his biggest advantages. I thought I played a good match. Every time he came to net I made it very difficult for him. I passed very well, and that was important, because it meant that he spent more time at the back of the court.


“When we were in the baseline rallies, I felt like I was able to dictate a lot of those points. Passing shots were important today.”


With the disappointing news that Bernard Tomic had withdrawn officially with a back injury, but also troubled with a wisdom tooth, defending men’s champion Novak Djokovic gets a walkover into the semi-final, but after struggling against him last year, Murray believes he has a chance to redress the balance.


He said: “He’s played extremely well here in the past. You know, he will be totally fresh as well and ready for the semis, so it will be a tough one for me. But I feel like I played well this week, and, you know, if I can keep that level up and for a sustained period on Saturday, I’ll have a chance.”


The men’s quarter-finals conclude on Friday.


Ros Satar is a British sports journalist and a writer at Livetennis.com.


Sabine Lisicki Wins First Title Since 2011 at Hong Kong Open

Lisicki 3

(September 14, 2014) For the first time since 2011 Sabine Lisicki has won a title. The German beat Karolina Pliskova 7-5, 6-3 in the final of the Hong Kong Open on Sunday.

Lisicki came back from a 1-5 deficit in the first set to win the next six games.

Lisicki last won a WTA title in Dallas in 2011. She has won 4 titles in her WTA career.

“After being in three finals last year and losing them closely, this is a big step forward for me. I’ve won titles in doubles but obviously the main goal is to play well in singles and get these trophies,” Lisicki said. “And I’m even happier because coming here was such a spontaneous decision – we literally decided three or four days before the tournament – and I felt very well all week in Hong Kong.”

“I was feeling quite good at the start, as won a couple of her service games very easily,” Pliskova said. “But then she started to come back and it took a lot of energy out of me.”

Pliskova and her twin sister, Kristyna Pliskova, won their third doubles title together on Sunday, saving a match point.


Li Na and Maria Sharapova Advance While Angelique Kerber Falls at Indian Wells



Li Na

Li Na

(March 8, 2014) INDIAN WELLS, California – No. 1 seed Li Na beat Chinese countrywoman Zheng Jie 6-1, 7-5, while fourth seed Maria Sharapova began the defense of her title with an easy 6-1, 6-4 victory over Julia Goerges.

Two seeded German women fell – No. 5 seed Angelique Kerber was upset 2-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4 by Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor while Aleksandra Wozniack stopped No. 15 seed Sabine Lisicki 7-5, 1-6, 7-6 (5).

Former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic was a set and a break down before stopping Elina Svitolina.

“I just tried to fight her at every point,” Ivanovic said of the turnaround in the second set. It probably wasn’t the best game I had played. I had lot of unforced errors I tried to stick with it and play each point and not try to think about the errors that I made and just to put pressure on her forehand and that worked well for me. I was very happy to manage to come back.”

In the night session, Sloane Stephens ran off the last nine games in a 6-4, 6-0 win over Ajla Tomljanovic. Advancing easily were No. 8 seed Petra Kvitova, No. 11 Ana Ivanovic and No. 12 Dominika Cibulkova.

For Li Na, this is her second tournament since winning the Australian Open.

“This is the first match after Doha, two weeks, and of course for I cannot be 100 percent for the first match,” Li said. “But I was happy. At least I can learn something from today’s match.”

This also marks the first time that Li has been the top seed in a premier mandatory event.

“The first match always tough, because like I say before, you didn’t know what happen on the court,” Li said.  “All you can do is like to try to do your best.  If you cannot hit good tennis, only one way is running all the shots and to fight every point.”

“First time to be the top seed in a big tournament.  Yeah, at least I’m still in the tournament,” she said smiling.

Li will play Karolina Pliskova next in the third round, who took out No. 28 seed Klara Zakopalova 7-5, 6-2,

“The first matches are always a little bit tricky, especially having not played in a few weeks indoor or outdoor,” Sharapova said.

“Tricky opponent, and she’s capable of playing good tennis.  She hasn’t been as consistent as she probably would have liked recently, but she’s had her results.  She’s beaten top players before, so the first round, that’s never easy, but I thought I did what I had to do.  Certainly improvements that I could make.”


Caroline Wozniacki Battles Past Sabine Lisicki in Dubai; Talks Engagement Ring in Press

Wozniacki engagement ring

(February 18, 2014) DUBAI – Former No. 1 and Dubai 2011 champion Caroline Wozniacki battled back to stop 2013 Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki, winning 2-6, 6-3, 6-3.

“I have had to fight pretty hard against her quite a few times,” said the woeld No. 11.  “I knew she was going to come out hot and just go for her shots, and I felt like I was just a step behind.  I couldn’t really do what I wanted from my backhand side, and I was playing a little too short.

“In the second set I started serving really well, I was really pleased with my serves, and I got a lot of her returns back deep, and all of a sudden, you know, the game was different.  I started attacking more from my backhand side onto her backhand and started to make her run a little bit.”

Asked if she was disappointed with the loss Lisicki who is still nursing a shoulder injury said:

“Definitely, but I still see it as positive, because I didn’t have a racquet in my hand for more than two weeks or two weeks.  I practiced four days, and, you know, my shoulder, I did a lot of rehab to be able to come here.

“So I’m very happy that I was able to play and to actually play that well.  It wasn’t enough to play the two whole sets that way yet, but in general, I’m pretty satisfied the way, you know, I started and went into the match, so that’s definitely something that I can build on.”

Wozniacki came into her news conference, sporting her 8 carat diamond engagement ring from fiancé and fomer No. 1 golfer Rory McIlroy. She doesn’t wear it on court for fear of losing it.

She explained the significance of the 8 carats:

“That’s my lucky number.  That’s how he picked eight.  Very thoughtful.  I should have said 18, but…,” she said jokingly.

“Date, everything, location set,” the Dane said when asked about her wedding plans. “Such an exciting time.”

Asked to name the date, she quipped, “You never know.”


No. 5 seed, Jelena Jankovic, had to fight to get past qualifier Maryna Zanevska, winning 6-4, 6-3.

“I worked really hard. It was not easy for my first match here,” said Jankovic. “I just came from Doha like one day ago, so it’s completely different. Playing there during the night it’s slower, and here it’s faster and the balls fly. It was quite windy out there, and I felt kind of like I couldn’t play my game totally, you know, play the lines.”

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Wimbledon Dream Comes True for Marion Bartoli as she Captures 2013 Title




(July 6, 2013) Back when she was a 6-year-old girl, Marion Bartoli pretended to play match point on the Wimbledon Centre court. She dreamed of winning what she deemed the most coveted Grand Slam trophy. As Don Quixote had a quest and dreamed the impossible dream, Bartoli’s impossible dream came true on Saturday at Centre Court at Wimbledon when as the 15th seed she defeated No. 23 Sabine Lisicki 6-1, 6-4 to capture the title, her first Grand Slam crown.

“(Wimbledon) has been my dream,” Bartoli said.  “I wanted that so badly.  I felt the achievement of my career was to win a Grand Slam.  Every time I was just saying my goal was to win a Grand Slam.


Bartoli fist pump


“It was like, yeah, dare to dream.  I kept dreaming.  I kept my head up.  I kept working hard, and it just happened.”

It wasn’t a match filled with precision and accuracy, it was mostly error-ridden, with a total of 39 unforced errors combined, but the Frenchwoman will take it.


10062012 China Open Bartoli smiles in press

“I was there in 2007 and I missed it,” said Bartoli, who lost in the final of Wimbledon that year to Venus Williams. “I know how it feels, Sabine, and I’m sure you will be there one more time. I have no doubt about it.”

Bartoli led off the match having her serve broken, but then stormed back winning the next six in succession and 11 of the next 12, which took her to a 6-1, 5-1 lead.

Bartoli had three match points on Lisicki’s serve at 5-1, but the German rallied to hold and win the next two games, forcing Bartoli to serve for the match a second time. Bartoli took the game at love, clinching the title with an ace.

After falling to her knees in exultation, Bartoli, after shaking hands with her opponent climbed into the “Friend’s Box” and hugged 2006 Wimbledon champion and France’s Fed Cup Captain and sometimes coach Amelie Mauresmo, her father, friends and supporters.

“I’ve been practicing my serve for so long,” Bartoli said of closing the match with an ace. “At least I saved it for the best moment.”

Bartoli gets $2.4 million for winning The Championships, her biggest-ever paycheck and her first title of any sort since 2011.

“It will not change me as a person because I will always remain the same: very humble, very low‑key and easygoing, down‑to‑earth,” Bartoli said in regard to winning Wimbledon.

”But just hearing ‘Wimbledon champion,’ that kind of sounds good to me,” she said with a smile.

And so Bartoli has reached what was an unreachable star.


Lisicki Fights Off Radwanska while Bartoli Dominates Flipkens to Reach Wimbledon Final


(July 4, 2013) Germany’s Sabine Lisicki has made her first Wimbledon final with a hard-fought match win over No. 4 seed Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 2-6, 9-7. For Lisicki who had the upset of women’s draw when she beat No. 1 Serena Williams in the round of 16, will play France’s Marion Bartoli next for the title. Bartoli beat Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium 6-1, 6-2 reaching her second Wimbledon final. The Frenchwoman lost to Venus Williams in 2007 in straight sets.

Saturday’s final will be only the second women’s major final in the Open era to feature two women who have never claimed a Grand Slam title.

Lisicki’s game demonstrates power and aggression, on both her serve and her groundstrokes. Lisicki fortunes turned in the second set as her service games were not as dominant and Radwanska’s game of retrieval and variety pushed past the German 6-2.

Radwanska zoomed to a 3-0 lead in the third set, the Lisicki rallied to equal the set three-all. Both women held serve until the ninth game when the Pole was broken. Lisicki, serving for the match at 5-4 could not complete the task with Radwanska breaking for 5-5. A break by Lisicki in the 15th game followed by a hold gave Lisicki game, set, match and her first crack at a chance to win a Wimbledon crown.

“I’m just so happy,” Lisicki said.  “Couldn’t be any better, and couldn’t be any better place to play the first Grand Slam final.”

“Fought out there.”

Lisicki admitted that her win over Serena Williams helped her make it through her match today.

“I thought, `I’ve done it against Serena so you can do it today as well, just hang in there,'” Lisicki said. “It gave me so much confidence and I’m just so, so happy I was able to finish it.”

Lisicki who has come back from many an injury talked about those who gave her inspiration:

“Hermann Maier.  You know, I read his book while I was injured.  You know, almost losing his leg and then to come back and be the world champion in his sport, I think was an unbelievable story.

“Also Drew Brees, an American football player, quarterback.  Nobody believed he could come back after almost his shoulder ‑‑ he has torn everything there was in the shoulder, and he still came back and was one of the best, so… “

Bartoli’s semifinal was not very dramatic – from start to finish she crushed her shots and pushed her opponent all over the court in 62 minutes.

“I played great. I executed very well. I hit lobs, passing shots, winners, returns, everything worked out perfectly,” said Bartoli. “When I fell on the grass after match point, it was just so emotional. I dreamed about that moment, about returning to the Wimbledon final.”

Bartoli reflected reaching the final this year versus back in 2007.

“The last time I was so young, in a way,” said the 28-year-old Bartoli.  “I was every time the underdog coming out on the court, which this time it was totally the opposite.  I was this time the highest ranked player and I needed to put out a great performance in order to go through.”

“I think I’ve been able to deal with the pressure really well and keep improving throughout the Championships and keep playing better.  Especially I think today I think I played a great match.”

Going into Saturday’s final the 23-year-old Lisicki holds a career 3-1 lead over Bartoli.