2015/04/25

Showdown in Hong Kong for World Tennis Day Sees Aussies Win

 

 

By Natalie Ho

(March 3, 2014) HONG KONG – The second annual BNP Paribas Showdown in Hong Kong, part of ITF’s World Tennis Day initiative, was concluded in lighthearted fashion with the participation of four star players – Li Na, Sam Stosur, Tomas Berdych and Lleyton Hewitt. The evening turned out to be a good one for the Aussies as Former US Open winner Sam Stosur beat reigning Australian Open champion Li Na 6-4, 6-3 in the opening match, while former world No 1 Lleyton Hewitt defeated No. 6 Tomas Berdych 6-4, 7-5 in the second match of the evening.

This year the event was moved to the newly opened Hong Kong Velodrome where a tennis court and bleacher seats were built especially for this showdown. Those lucky fans with tickets to the temporary bleachers were literally court-side. They were treated to an intimate setting with the only disadvantage being the chance to get hit by serves. However, spectators in the upper section were separated from the action by a cycling track which was quite a distraction and might explain the lack of atmosphere especially at the beginning.

Missing Li last year due to injury, the crowd was happy to see her finally but Stosur also had very vocal support. The ladies traded service breaks multiple times but in the end it was Stosur, the more solid player in the match, who prevailed. The men’s match was, in contrast, more exhibition-like. Berdych was quite a crowd pleaser while Hewitt’s competitive drive was visible even in an exhibition. The crowd really got into the match towards the end and was shouting “third set, third set”. However, it was not to be as after some tussling Hewitt was able to close out the match.

Earlier in the day the players participated in a news conference to kick off the event.

Lleyton Hewitt, asked about the International Premier Tennis League, said Asia is a massive growth area for tennis so being an Aussie he’s excited to take part.

Tomas Berdych was asked about hiring a star coach. He feels this is not a must and that a star coach may not work well within a team.

Sam Stosur is happy to be working on different things with her new coach Miles Maclagan and plans to play more doubles this year.

Li Na naturally received the most questions. Between more GS & #1 she wants both. #1 is a goal as she’s now on her career high ranking. She also revealed a funny team dynamic: her husband would tell Carlos his ideas so Carlos would say them. Otherwise she wouldn’t listen.

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Dubai Draw Provides Competitive Opening Round Clashes

 

IMG_5879 dubai draw

(February 15, 2014) DUBAI, UAEFormer world No. 1, 2011 champion and No. 8 seed Caroline Wozniacki will face 2013 Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki in the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

 

That is just one of the opening round clashes that were revealed when the draw was made at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium on Saturday in the presence of Venus Williams, Samantha Stosur, Sorana Cirstea and Lucie Safarova.

 

Another first round match will pit former No. 1 and the 2008 French Open champion, Ana Ivanovic, against six seed Angelique Kerber, who ended last season by beating Ivanovic to win Linz and then last month warmed up for the Australian Open by reaching the Sydney final.

 

Former two-time champion Venus Williams needed a wild card to compete, and she will tackle Elena Vesnina in the first round for the right to meet either Kerber or Ivanovic.

 

Top seed Serena Williams has a bye into the second round, where she could face recent Pattaya winner Ekaterina Makarova, and second seed and 2012 champion Agnieszka Radwanska will face either a qualifier or 2009 Dubai semi-finalist Kaia Kanepi. Third seed and defending champion Petra Kvitova will face either former world number three Nadia Petrova or Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro.

 

Fourth seed Sara Errani, who finished as runner-up to Petra Kvitova in 2013, also receives a bye and then could face either Sorana Cirstea or her doubles partner and the player she beat in last year’s semi-finals, Roberta Vinci. Former world No. 1 and fifth seeded Jelena Jankovic will play a qualifier in the first round, and seventh seed and WTA Most Improved Player of 2013 Simona Halep faces Alize Cornet.

 

Main draw play begins on 17th February and continues until 22nd February, followed by the ATP tournament which takes place from February 24 to March 1.

 

DUBAI DUTY FREE TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS
Dubai, UAE
February 17-February 22, 2014
$2,000,000/Premier
Hard/Outdoors

Order Of Play – Monday, February 17, 2014
Centre Court (from 14.00hrs)
1. Sloane Stephens vs. Lucie Safarova
2. Carla Suárez Navarro vs. Nadia Petrova
3. Venus Williams vs. Elena Vesnina (NB 19.00hrs)
4. Sorana Cirstea vs. Roberta Vinci

Court 1 (from 14.00hrs)
1. Alisa Kleybanova vs. Ekaterina Makarova
2. Chan/Huber vs. Kops-Jones/Spears
3. Raymond/Zhang vs. Pliskova/Pliskova
4. Dushevina/Parra Santonja vs. Groenefeld/Rosolska

Court 2 (from 12.30hrs)
1. Camila Giorgi vs. Karolina Pliskova (Singles Q Final)
2. Maryna Zanevska vs. Mona Barthel (Singles Q Final)

Court 3 (from 12.30hrs)
1. Eugenie Bouchard vs. Annika Beck (Singles Q Final)
2. Flavia Pennetta vs. Yvonne Meusburger (Singles Q Final)

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296th Ranked Qualifier Victoria Duval Upends 2011 US Open Champ Sam Stosur in First Round of US Open

Victoria Duval

(August 27, 2013) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Last year at the US Open, Victoria Duval gained a wild card into the US Open when she won the US Junior Girls’ National 18 and under championship. This year she had to win three matches in the qualifying tournament to make the main draw. She made good use of extra practice on the courts during qualifying to upset No. 11 seed and 2011 US Open Champion Sam Stosur 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 to move into the second round at Flushing Meadows.

Originally, the 296th ranked Duval who is just 17-years-old  said she wanted to be a ballerina but she took after her brothers’ interest in tennis.

“Actually, my brothers played,” she said.  “So I was a ballerina before tennis.  I would just run around and hit the ball.  I could never hit the strings.  My brother would go to this tournament in Santo Domingo every year.  The tournament director said, your daughter comes and sits on your lap.  Why don’t you have her play in the tournament?

“I was seven.  I had no idea how to keep score, nothing.  It was a 10‑and‑under tournament, I think, and I won it.  I had no idea where to stand on the court or anything.  After that, my mom was, Okay, you have to choose now.  Tennis seemed to be appropriate.”

The effervescent teen born in Florida but grew up in Haiti, with a high pitched voice that could pass for an animated character, did not have an easy road to tennis.

“It was definitely financially difficult, especially after the earthquake.  My dad wasn’t able to work anymore.

“I’ve been very fortunate.  A couple family members have helped me.  Hopefully with this win today, that will change a little bit.”

At one point as a child she and her cousin were held hostage by robbers.

“We were held hostage,” said Duval.  “It’s not a good memory, so I try to forget as much as I could about it.  I don’t remember too much of it anymore, which is great.”

Also in 2010 an earthquake hit Haiti and her father, a doctor, was underneath rubble for nearly 12 hours. He survived with the aid of an American friend who found a helicopter to get him out. However, now her father is unable to work.

“But he’s improving so much,” said Duval.  “Emotionally it was hard at first.  But he’s as happy as he’s ever been.  He had a couple surgeries that helped take the pain away.  We’re just so happy that, you know, he’s in a good state of mind right now.  He’s just here with us.  So it’s incredible.”

In her post-match on-court interview she reflected on how fortunate she really is: “I don’t take anything for granted. You never know what can happen any day. My dad’s fortunate to be here. … I thank God every day for everything that’s happened. Life is short.”

Duvall made much better memories on Tuesday in Louis Armstrong Stadium with her victory.

“Obviously it’s a great feeling to beat a past champion,” Duval said.  “And Sam is amazing.  Although she didn’t play nearly her best today, I played amazing, so I’ll take it,” she said with a smile.

“But, yeah, I mean, I have to worry about the next match, so I can’t celebrate too much.”

The tale of the tape showed that Stosur hit 56 unforced errors to Duval’s 35.

“I think she played from the ground pretty decent,” Stosur said.  “You know, she went for her forehand a lot more than maybe what I was expecting, from what I could kind of find out beforehand.  She hit that well.  She hit that cross‑court forehand well.  Moved relatively well, all that.

“I again, she played a pretty good match.  It was certainly a match where I feel like I could have played a lot better than what I did.  At the end of the day, that’s what happened today.  She did well.”

Asked if she was going to become a tennis star, Duval said: That’s what I’m working for.  If God will let it, then let’s go.”

Karen Pestaina is covering the US Open as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her updates on twitter at @TennisNewsTPN.

 

Related articles:

A New “Sunshine” – Victoria Duval

Q & A with Victoria Duval at the Sony Open

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Sam Stosur Says That it was Time to Get a New Coach

 

Sam Stosur interview

(August 24, 2013) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – For Sam Stosur the US Open is the scene of her greatest tennis triumph as she won the title in 2011 over Serena Williams.

“It’s fantastic coming back here,” Stosur said to media.  “I guess it’s the second year coming back to the site of where I have had my best tennis moment.”

“So I think no matter, you know, what leadup you’ve had, however you feel, you can walk in here and think this is pretty cool and relive all those great memories and hopefully make them all happen again.”

Stosur has recently split with her coach of six years David Taylor.

“I think Dave and I, we had been together for a long time, “ the Australian said.  “It was almost six years.  We had some great moments in that period of time.

“Yeah, you know, as these little periods have gone on, I think we both were kind of feeling that we’d almost come to the end.  Unfortunately, it happened to be last week.  I don’t think, neither of us, I’m sure, would have wanted it to happen right then, and obviously with winning that tournament almost makes it seem a little bit strange.

“But I think we both felt that it was time, and, you know, if something’s time is up, then you’ve kind of got to call it a day.”

Stosur is currently working with Fed Cup captain Alicia Molik until she finds a permanent replacement.

She will help me here, and after this tournament I will kind of assess what I want to do, who maybe it can be, and go from there.” Stosur said.  “But there is no one in particular at the moment.”

The 11th seed’s first round opponent will be young American qualifier Victoria Duval on Tuesday.

 

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News

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Stosur, Tomic, Radwanska and Janowicz to Play Hopman Cup

Janowicz 88

Jerzy Janowicz

(August 19, 2013) Australia’s top ranked players Sam Stosur and Bernard Tomic  have confirmed they will play at Hyundai Hopman Cup 2014.

 

Current world No.4 Agnieszka Radwanska and Wimbledon semifinalist Jerzy Janowicz are also set to team up as Poland makes its debut at the event.

 

World No.13 Stosur is excited to return to Western Australia for the first time since 2010.

 

“I just wanted to get back to Perth. I thought this year I’d try something different again,” said Stosur, the 2011 US Open champion.

 

“It will be nice to be able to play. You know that you’re going to get three matches … and maybe that’s going to be good for me going into the Aussie Open.

 

“Hopefully that’s going to be the secret formula to me doing well,” added Stosur.

 

Tomic, 20, and the youngest player currently in the top 100, will pair with Stosur as he looks to continue his unbeaten record at Perth Arena.

 

“I had some success there earlier this year so hopefully I can do well again in 2014,” said the world No.42, who recently reached the fourth round at Wimbledon.

 

“The event always attracts strong teams so you know you’re going to get some tough matches against high quality players.

 

“The local crowds love their tennis and it’s always exciting to play in front of them,” added the Queenslander, who won his first ATP singles title in Sydney in January.

 

Radwanska and Janowicz will be looking to make their mark when Team Poland makes its first ever appearance at the event.

 

“I’m really excited to play the Hopman Cup for the first time,” said Radwanska, who holds 12 WTA singles titles at just 24 years of age.

 

“I’ve never played mixed doubles with him [Jerzy] before.  Actually my last mixed doubles match was I think five years ago so that will be fun for sure.”

 

Twenty-two-year-old Janowicz has climbed up the rankings by 73 places to be just outside the top 10 in the past 12 months.

 

“We decided it might be a lot of fun to play together at Hopman Cup,” said Janowicz.

 

Hyundai Hopman Cup Event Director Steve Ayles is delighted with the signing of the top Australian and Polish pairs.

 

“Sam and Bernie, Australia’s highest ranked players, have committed to play this event, which shows the strength and value of the Hyundai Hopman Cup. The players look at the event as a solid starting point for the new season.

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Stosur Earns First Win Over Azarenka and Fourth Career Title

Stosur sliding in the pool

By Curt Janka

(August 4, 2013) CARLSBAD, California – Samantha Stosur wasn’t even scheduled to play this week, but made the best of her wild card entry, defeating the top seed, Victoria Azarenka in the final 6-2, 6-3. The match was perhaps less competitive than the score indicates as Azarenka never seemed to find the right length to her shots.

Without finding a feel for her shots, Azarenka never adjusted her game plan. In fact, her game plan may have got in the way of her settling into a rhythm. From the very beginning, it was clear Azarenka wanted to avoid the Stosur forehand at all costs. She continued to over hit at the Stosur’s backhand even when an easier shot was available in the other direction. Azarenka seemed to recognize this after the match saying, “I just have to be a little bit more aware of what I‘m doing on the court, what I can do on that particular day.  I kept doing the same kind of thing, so that wasn’t very smart for me to do.”

Azarenka did not put all the blame on her game, however, adding,“ have to give her credit. She played a great match today for sure. There is no doubt about that.”

The statistics for Stosur certainly concur. While Azarenka was one of 12 on break points, Stosur was an impressive four of five. Azarenka is known as a great returner, but it was Stosur that got a remarkable 80% of returns in play. Returning so well kept Azarenka’s serve in jeopardy throughout the match. Of the eight times Stosur came to net, she won seven of those points. She also hit 13 more winners than her opponent.

IMG_7884

One other statistic stood out even before the match started, their head-to-head record. Azarenka was previously 8-0 against Stosur. It’s not easy to overcome that kind of history, but Stosur pointed out it’s not a first for her. “I guess I went through something similar when I played Maria Sharapova a bunch of times,” said Stosur.  “I think it took ten times for me to be able to beat her.  I knew it was possible one day against Vika, but the last two matches that we played have been very, very close.  I felt like I was almost in winning positions with those two as well. So I think going into today there was no reason to believe that I wasn’t going to be able to turn that result around and win today.”

That mentality came through in Stosur’s positive body language from the start of the match to the end when she closed out the win on her first opportunity. This is her fourth career title and a much needed confidence builder heading into the final slam of the season.

“Yeah, it’s great,” Stosur said with a relieved smile. “Obviously this is the lead-up to the US Open and that’s where everyone wants to peak.  I think this is a huge boost for me.  I haven’t had great results all year, so to be able to bounce back especially from last week’s first-round loss is really exciting.”

In addition to lifting the trophy, and taking the now traditional victor’s trip down the pool slide at the La Costa resort, Stosur is now also tied for the lead in the US Open Series points race.  If her confidence, and points race standings hold, she’ll be eligible for bonus prize money and likely a deep run in New York.

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Jankovic Slays Semifinal Demons in a Three-Set Thriller

JelenaJankovic

By Ros Satar

(June 1, 2013) PARIS -With so many competitive matches on the schedule on Saturday, the Roland-Garros site had hyped up the Jelena JankovicSam Stosur contest as their one to watch – and they were not wrong.

Three years ago, many thought Jankovic’s best chance at a major title run was right here, but the semi-final against Sam Stosur was a very one-sided affair.

Stosur effectively closed down all elements of Jankovic’s counter-punching style that day, and went through to the final for the loss of just three games.

For a small time, it looked as though history might repeat itself, as the first set went Stosur’s way quite rapidly.

The pair traded breaks in the second before Jankovic was able to make that decisive break at 4-3, serving it out convincingly.

Things remained close with breaks between them until Jankovic broke again to lead 5-4.

Three match points came and went for Jankovic, who then had to save a break point before finally converting on her fourth match point, finishing with an ace.

Jankovic will face USA’s Jamie Hampton, who beat Petra Kvitova earlier today in another tight 3-set match.

Stosur was very honest about the way things had gone today.

She said: “I think that I was pretty much in control of the match and then at 3-all I felt that I was setting the point up and then missed those shots to win the point.”

Although she had fought back from 0-3 down, it proved to be too big a hole to come back from.

She concluded: “I’m very disappointed and it’s kind of hard to take a little bit.

“I thought I played well enough for the majority of the match to be through. Obviously I didn’t do enough, and didn’t do it at the right time, or whatever and yeah – I find myself out of the tournament.”

Jankovic also shared some insight into how the first set had got away from her, in much the same way as the 2010 semi-final.

She said: “I had difficulty returning her serve and obviously when I don’t return well she starts controlling the point.

“She takes real advantage of that and she starts pushing me around then court and it’s difficult.

“She starts spinning that forehand and its very heavy and then I’m in trouble, so my goal was to return the serve as deep as I can and get back in the court.”

Mentally, Jankovic seems to have found herself, and gave a fairly brutal assessment of her form in the past year, given that her next opponent (Jamie Hampton) beat her in Indian Wells in 2012.

“I was losing to pretty much everyone at the time, at that stage and I was playing really badly and my level of tennis was not there.”

Hampton came through a tough 3-set match of her own, beating Petra Kvitova.

Jankovic said: “Obviously she’s playing very well, she’s beaten some top players.

“We’re now in the fourth round so you have to be playing very well to get there.”

“She has a tough game, she’s a tough opponent to play against, she has a big forehand.”

When Jankovic is up, she is very up, and given that she plays her next round of women’s doubles tomorrow, and has yet to kick off her mixed doubles campaign (partnering Leander Paes) – how will she find the time?

She joked: “I am a woman in demand, huh?

“It’s OK, I’ll play them all, and then I’ll die at the end.”

But all joking aside – Jankovic has started playing a lot more doubles this year, in order to add elements to her game, that have often been noted as lacking.

She concluded: “When I play doubles it helps me, improves my return, my transitions game, my volleys.

“Even in the singles I think I did very well when I was volleying today, when I was coming forward so I’m learning and improving that part which is great”

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Venus and EleVen Aim to Shine in Charleston

CNote and Venus EleVen Exo

By Stephanie Neppl

(April 1, 2013) CHARELSTON, SC – Venus Williams is ready to return to the place which was instrumental in her qualifying mission for last year’s London Olympics. A year ago, Williams hadn’t played much due to her Sjögren’s syndrome and she was ranked No. 87 when she stepped on the Har-Tru courts in Charleston.

 

She made the quarters in 2012, losing to Sam Stosur in a three-set battle. From then she successfully improved her ranking, made the Olympic team and walked away with her fourth gold medal, her third doubles gold with little sister Serena.

 

Venus recalled the battle and says revisiting each of the tournaments which helped her achieve Olympic Gold last year reminds her of her triumphs.

 

“I fought very hard to get back to where I was – back to the top 20,” she said. “For me last year the triumph wasn’t winning the tournament or anything like that, it was just any accomplishment was a triumph.”

 

Venus admits that battling back from being ranked No. 134 in the world to No. 24 “was one of the toughest and amazing and most exhilarating things I’ve ever done in my life.”

 

Despite withdrawing from her second round match in Miami last month due to a back injury, Venus says she is happy to be back and ready to play.

 

“I really wanted to be here,” Venus said. “I love this tournament and I have really great memories from here last year.”

 

Also appearing on the courts in Charleston is Venus’ clothing line EleVen.

BGy_b2-CQAATNa8.jpg large

Monday night in Charleston, Venus and her EleVen brand were featured in an exhibition match on Althea Gibson Club Court. She was joined on court by her Washington Kastles teammate Arina Rodionova, Tennis Channel’s Danielle Dotzenrod and Sports Illustrated contributing writer Courtney Nguyen, all dressed in the EleVen attire. Several local Charleston women also got the chance to play doubles in a World Team Tennis style exhibition, also dressed in EleVen.

 

Venus said the EleVen line is going well. “We’re good. We’re small. But we’re growing and I think that’s the best way is to grow strategically and it’s great because more than anything people really like the clothes and that’s more than half the battle.”

 

Venus was all smiles during the relaxed exhibition and gets one more day off before playing Monica Puig of Puerto Rico on Wednesday.

 

Stephanie Neppl is in Charleston covering the Family Circle Cup for Tennis Panorama News. She spends all her spare funds traveling to tennis tournaments and has played since her teen years. She has worked as Social Media Manager for Tennis Auckland’s ATP and WTA tournaments. Follow her live updates on Twitter at @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal Twitter @stephintheus and her blog  http://ihaveatennisaddiction.blogspot.com.

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Serena Williams Returns to the Family Circle Cup

 Serena Day 2 Press Conference
By Stephanie Neppl

(April 1, 2013) CHARLESTON, SC – Two-time champ and defending champion Serena Williams leads a stellar field for the 2013 Family Circle Cup in Charleston this week. Coming off a record sixth title in Miami, there’s no time for the world No. 1 to rest as she kick starts her clay season on the green clay.

Last year’s Charleston win kick started a stellar 12 months for Williams, which saw her win two slams, two Olympics gold medals and the year-end championships plus retain the number one ranking.

Williams said her semis and final last year here were amazing. She dropped just two games against Sam Stosur in the semis before winning the final 6-0,  6-1 against Lucie Safarova. “I really don’t know if I’ve played better, ever. Hopefully I can kind of rekindle some of that fire,” she said.

When discussing her Miami win, Williams said she was happy she was able to solve problems on her own when she was down, and commented that on-court coaching is not for her.

“I don’t do it so much,” she said. “For me I like to solve problems and I think in Miami I solved a lot of problems. I was down in several matches and I was able to solve and figure it out on my own.”

Although Williams doesn’t use the on-court coaching, she says she definitely notices when other players do. “I do think about it and I think like ‘OK, ha I’m in now’ so it makes me feel good,” she said.

Williams will launch her 2013 Family Circle Cup against Camila Giorgi of Italy during Tuesday’s day session.

2011 champion Caroline Wozniacki and 2010 winner Sam Stosur are the 2nd and 3rd seeds, with Sloane Stephens as the 4th seed.

Stephanie Neppl is in Charleston covering the Family Circle Cup for Tennis Panorama News. She spends all her spare funds traveling to tennis tournaments and has played since her teen years. She has worked as Social Media Manager for Tennis Auckland’s ATP and WTA tournaments. Follow her live updates on Twitter at @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal Twitter @stephintheus and her blog  http://ihaveatennisaddiction.blogspot.com.

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Azarenka and Stosur Withdraw From Indian Wells with Injuries

Victoria Azarenka

Victoria Azarenka

(March 14, 2013) BNP Paribas Open top seed Belarusian Victoria Azarenka and seventh seed Australian Samantha Stosur withdrew from their quarterfinal matches on Thursday due to ankle and calf injuries respectively.

“On my warmup today.  I tested it out as much as possible,” Azarenka said.”  I tried absolutely everything I could to do, but I have been advised by the doctor, by my own team, that it’s just a very, very high risk already.

“Well, in medical term, it’s a right‑foot injury, and there is a big inflammation in both ‑‑ and tendinitis,” Azarenka continued.  Around tendinitis, there is a big inflammation which keeps bothering one part or another, I mean, it cannot get better with me playing on it, especially playing last three matches on it.

“It’s just worse.  I tried not to practice yesterday, and to see if it will settle down at least a little bit.  I felt yesterday was better, not walking in my tennis shoes.

“But today, once I started doing the exercise, that was it.”

 “I hurt my right calf muscle in the last game of my match against Mona Barthel when I was serving for the match, so I don’t know if you can get any more unlucky than that, “ Stosur said. “I think we only played another four points in that match. I felt something go in my calf and it was hurting a fair bit. Yesterday I took the day off practice and only did treatment, probably iced it about 10 times. This morning I thought I would give it a shot, and tried to go out and warm up, and after about five minutes I knew that there was no chance I could play unfortunately.”

“It’s really disappointing. I had a bit of a rough start to the year and I feel like now my tennis has really picked up, and I’ve been playing really quite well these last few days. I love the conditions here at the BNP Paribas Open and I love playing in front of this crowd, so to have to pull out without even being able to get on court is probably as bad as it gets. I think this is only the second time I’ve ever pulled out of a match in my career, and unfortunately there isn’t anything I can do about it.”

With the withdrawals Angelique Kerber and Caroline Wozniacki  advance and will face each other in the semifinals of the Indian Wells tennis event.

Should Maria Sharapova win her semifinal against Maria Kirilenko she’ll move up to No. 2 ranking pushing Azarenka down to No. 3..

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