Azarenka Pushes Past Errani to Lead Off WTA Championships


By Andrew Jones

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


No. 1 Serena Williams Set to Begin WTA Championships Defense on Tuesday

Serena Williams Beijing

By Andrew Jones

(October 21, 2013) In a perfect world, the tournament would be named “The Serena Williams Year End Coronation Exhibition.” But out of respect to the seven other ladies in attendance, the WTA Championships will conclude its lovely three year relationship with the city of Istanbul starting Tuesday.

The famous Turkish city has been a terrific host for the WTA Championships, a major upgrade from past hosts like Los Angeles, Berlin, and Madrid after the tour decided to leave New York City’s Madison Square Garden a decade ago. But with the Chairman and  CEO Stacey Allaster moving its championships to Asia (and virtually every other tournament it seems nowadays) to Singapore for next year, it will be a bittersweet tournament for the locals who have given the year end finale a great temporary home.

And it was clearly the home for the world No. 1 last year with her dominance to win her second year-end championships without dropping a set, and Williams the younger is projected by most to do the same. However, with Victoria Azarenka back after an ugly Asia swing for her with ailments and illness all over, the always solid Agniezska Radwanska, and the reemerging force that is Petra Kvitova still here to give it their all in the last tournament of the year, Williams will still have to play well enough to close a banner 2013.

Three of those four players mentioned there are in the same group, with it fittingly called the red group as an in-form Angelique Kerber rounds out their formidable foursome. Like Kvitova, Kerber has had a good fall campaign after a mostly terrible season and has done well to surge into the last spot ahead of Caroline Wozniacki and Sloane Stephens, who are alternatives. And she beat Radwanska, who was flat after winning Seoul the week prior, in the Toray Pan Pacific Open (Tokyo) before Radwanska returned the favor on her friend at the China Open (Beijing) in the instant rematch. Kerber also played Kvitova in Tokyo in the final, and the quality all-lefty battle went to the Czech, as both women have located needed momentum for 2014.

Still, all three women are playing for second place in the group, as an even fogged challenge, easily frustrated, and slightly ailed Williams was still good enough to win the China Open going away. With her loving indoors too, like her old red group members, taking a set off Serena in the group stages and the whole week in general is going to be a difficult task.

It’s a scenario that the four members in the white group thankfully don’t have to deal with for their own relief, as Azarenka headlines a quartet not as formidable as their red counterparts. The world number two’s own problems since that dramatic US Open final with Serena will either be vanished or still apparent when she plays the championships’ opening match against the always game Sara Errani, who has done quite well  to make the last eight for a second consecutive year. The former doubles and best friend duo of Li Na and Jelena Jankovic complete the group and will feel they have a strong chance to make the semifinals in Istanbul.

Not to be forgotten are the final four teams in doubles, with the aforementioned Errani and Roberta Vinci set to close out their latest No. 1 year in style. But they will face stern challenges from the superb Asian duo of Peng Shuai and Su-Wei Hsieh, who have grown into a world class team, the accomplished veteran pair of Nadia Petrova and Katarina Srebotnik, and the talented, eclectic Russian combination of Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina.

In a perfect world, this tournament would be called “The Serena Williams Year End Coronation Exhibition.” But that would be boring and thankfully we don’t live in a perfect world. But the year-end championships giving Istanbul and the 2013 season the perfect sendoff would be a perfect week, regardless of whoever wins.


RED GROUP (seed in parentheses)

(1) Serena Williams (USA)

(3) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL)

(5) Petra Kvitova (CZE)

(8) Angelique Kerber (GER)



(2) Victoria Azarenka (BLR)

(4) Li Na (CHN)

(6) Sara Errani (ITA)

(7) Jelena Jankovic (SRB)


Predictions from Andrew Jones:

Red Group Top 2: Serena Williams and Aga Radwanska

White Group Top 2: Victoria Azarenka and Li Na


Final: Serena Williams defeats Aga Radwanska 


Doubles winner: Peng Shuai and Su-Wei Hsieh


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


Istanbul, Turkey
October 22-October 27, 2013
$6,000,000/Season-Ending Championships

Order Of Play – Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Center Court (from 17.00hrs)
1. Victoria Azarenka vs. Sara Errani
2. Serena Williams vs. Angelique Kerber
3. Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Petra Kvitova


Draws Made for TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships in Istanbul


(L-R) Sara Errani of Italy, Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic, Serena Williams of USA, Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, Li Na of China, Jelena Jankovic of Serbia, and Angelique Kerber of Germany pose with the Billie Jean King trophy for the official photo of the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships-Istanbul (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images for WTA).

(L-R) Sara Errani of Italy, Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic, Serena Williams of USA, Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, Li Na of China, Jelena Jankovic of Serbia, and Angelique Kerber of Germany pose with the Billie Jean King trophy for the official photo of the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships-Istanbul (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images for WTA).

(October 20, 2013) The WTA Championships begin on Tuesday in Istanbul. The singles draws where made on Sunday and are as follows:

RED GROUP (seed in parentheses)

(1) Serena Williams (USA)

(3) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL)

(5) Petra Kvitova (CZE)

(8) Angelique Kerber (GER)



(2) Victoria Azarenka (BLR)

(4) Li Na (CHN)

(6) Sara Errani (ITA)

(7) Jelena Jankovic (SRB)


2012  champion Serena Williams is trying to become the first player to defend the year-end championships since Justine Henin did it in 2007.


Maria Sharapova Withdraws from WTA Year-End Championships, Petra Kvitova, Sara Errani and Jelena Jankovic Qualify


(October 7, 2013) – The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) announced that Czech Republic’s Petra Kvitova, Italy’s Sara Errani and Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic have qualified for this year’s TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships, to be held at the Sinan Erdem Dome in Istanbul, Turkey, from October 22-27, 2013. Kvitova, Errani and Jankovic join a singles line-up that already includes Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Agnieszka Radwanska and Li Na.


World No.3 Maria Sharapova announced her withdrawal from the Championships due to a continuing right shoulder injury..


“I am very disappointed that I will not be able to play in the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships this year. The fans in Istanbul have welcomed us each year with such intense passion and warmth, I will sincerely miss the energy and excitement they brought to the year-end tournament. I want to thank Istanbul for being a tremendous host and hope to play in Turkey sometime in the future,” said Sharapova.


The TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships showcases the world’s Top 8 singles players and Top 4 doubles teams to compete for $6 million in prize money. Istanbul is hosting the season-ending event for a third and final year.


Approach Shots – Judy Murray Q & A Part Two




(September 18, 2013) NEW YORK, NY – During the US Open, Great Britain’s Fed Cup Captain Judy Murray, mother of ATP players Andy Murray and Jamie Murray, sat down to do an interview with Tennis Panorama News.

In part two of our Q & A, the former top Scottish women’s tennis player spoke about the current women’s tour and some of her proudest moments.


Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News: What are your thoughts on the women’s tour? Do you think there is more depth or is it just Serena(Williams) and everyone else?

Judy Murray: When Serena is at the top of her game is very, very tough to beat because she’s just so strong and she’s just fabulous to watch when she’s playing well and I love watching her when she’s on top of her game. And just behind her is obviously (Victoria) Azarenka and (Maria) Sharapova. So the top three are very much power players – there’s not a huge amount of variety there. You don’t see too much, not too many drops shots or changes of pace, it’s really all about the power.

Then there’s sort of a pack of players behind that that are all very solid. The players that I miss are the (Amelie) Mauresmo’s and the (Justine) Henin’s. I like watching (Sara) Errani and (Flavia) Pennetta. I like watching the Italian’s creativity and variety.

I think you know, you need personalities. I think that’s the thing you kind of feel that tennis, is just to try and create more personalities out of the players so fans can start to identify with them as people. And I think that I think Serena is a huge personality and I think Sharapova probably is as well, but we need try and get that with more of them. I guess it’s up to the WTA tour to find a way to be able to do that so that fans can really identify them and want to come out and watch and support.

It’s tough on the women’s tour – this year I’ve noticed it’s more difficult getting into a lot of the tournaments. A lot a tournaments that have been lost and maybe the sponsors withdrawing, so they’re not so many options open to the girls on the calendar. I think that the last three weeks on the women’s tour (during the summer) from New Haven, Toronto and Cincinnati. I think cutoffs of the main draw were 40? It’s very, very tough. The girls are having to pay out a lot of money every week to travel.

KP: No secondary tournaments going on.

JM: That’s right. There used to be a lot more so. It’s not just at that time of the year, it’s just very noticeable just lately. There’s not so much choice now.

If the women’s tour calendar is losing tournaments because it’s harder to get sponsors, then you have to look at why is that. Why are sponsors not coming forward, are they not getting crowds? Why are they not getting crowds? Not getting TV showing it. Why are they not getting TV showing it? You need to ask those questions and find out what people want and the tour. The WTA has to find ways to help players to market themselves better so that people do want to come and watch women in the same way they want to watch the men. I think the events that are mixed, where they have both at the same time, have been fantastic. There is huge, huge buzz about those tournaments. May be they need to have more of those if that’s possible, but if it isn’t….

I have this theory that if it’s more women who come and watch women’s sports, so you need to create an army of tennis fans from women to come along and support women’s sport.  It’s like I went to watch the British Women’s Open golf a few weeks ago and I had the same feeling there. You know, that there were not a lot of young people, girls watching that. There were a lot of older people that and I was thinking, golf was one of those sports that women are more likely to take up when they’re older than when they’re younger. That’s a challenge to golf.

I do think that tennis needs to ask itself questions about why, and I’m sure they are, asking questions about why they’ve lost so many tournaments and how they can make the calendar more busy. But also it needs to be a bit smarter, I think in terms of where tournaments are placed so that you could have a run of three tournaments without having to travel from one side of the world to the other. I think that makes a lot of sense because the expenses for the players are getting bigger and bigger all the time and especially if you’ve got someone travelling with you and you probably need two rooms and two flights, food every week.

Or maybe finding ways where they can help the girls to supplement their income. I don’t necessarily mean the top ones ‘cause they don’t need it. The other girls you know, some more pro-ams or little exho matches before tournaments start and things where sponsor might need to have some of the girls play with their clients. You see things like that at Indian Wells. I always think, you know that’s one of few venues that do that sort of thing really well.

And for the doubles guys, because of Jamie, it’s a great help to go off and do a few of them. It helps to pay for your hotel bill for a week, but they probably need some help in trying to encourage people to put more of that on for the women’s side.


KP: What have been your proudest moments in tennis?

JM: There’s been absolutely loads.

I think when I first started coaching, I was just a volunteer coach at the club, I had been doing it for a few years. Our high school team at Dunblane High School won the Scottish schools championship, the boys team and that was my first success in coaching and I can remember being very emotional when they won that because it was just great. It’s your local town, just something that you helped out and these kids have managed to win this big thing.

But anytime when the boys (Andy and Jamie) have played together, on Davis Cup teams for Great Britain, watching them play together and that’s a huge thing, seeing both of your children, side by side. Any time they play together – I think the Olympics and Davis cup are very special. In 2008 here (US Open) Andy was in the singles final and Jamie was in the mixed doubles final, that was a great time. And obviously the two Wimbledon wins – Andy winning the singles and Jamie winning his mixed doubles. They were huge. The Olympics, US Open last year.

I have proud moments that have nothing to do with the tennis – they’re good kids. They do good things. They’re good with people and they’re still very normal through everything that’s happened.


In the part three, the final part of the interview, Murray discusses tennis and twitter, and her sweet tooth.

Related articles:

Approach Shots – Judy Murray Q & A Part One


Demolitions Rule Center Court at US Open on Thursday


Serena Day 2 Press Conference

(August 29, 2013) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Thursday in Arthur Ashe Stadium was home to a slate full of tennis“beatdowns” from beginning to end.

Sara Errani2

The day began with the upset of No. 4 seed Italy’s Sara Errani by countrywoman No. 83 in the world Flavia Pennetta 6-3, 6-1. A teary-eyed Errani admitted in press that she’s having a hard time dealing with her high ranking and big expectations.

“My problem isn’t that I lost. I’ve lost a million times in my life,” Errani said. “My problem is trying to find the desire to fight and be on the court ready to fight. For a few weeks, I haven’t felt like I wanted to be on the court. That’s the problem.”

Next, Serena Williams had no real challenge from Galina Voskoboeva winning 6-3, 6-0. The only challenge for Williams in the match was playing in windy conditions.

“Definitely had to be a little more cautious in the wind,” Williams said.  Just natural taking that in.”

Roger Federer

In the last match of the day session on Ashe, seventh seed Roger Federer hit 37 winners in his 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 second-round victory over Argentina’s Carlos Berlocq in 95 minutes.

“I’m happy,” Federer said about the match. “I mean, it’s one of those matches I expect myself to win if possible in straight sets, and, you know, gain confidence in the process.”

Wozniacki frustrated

The evening session continued the streak of non-competitive matches on Ashe. Former No 1 and US Open finalist Caroline Wozniacki opened the night session with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Chanelle Scheepers.

“I felt pretty good,“ said Wozniacki.  “I mean, I really like playing the night session on Ashe.  It’s great.  It’s a nice atmosphere.  It’s very electric.”


No. 2 Rafael Nadal ended the night session on Ashe by destroying Brazilian qualifier Rogerio Dutra Silva 6-2, 6-1, 6-0.

Nadal now has a 17-0 record on hard courts this year and has lost only 11 games at the US open this year.

Nadal is now 55-3 on the year with his victory and leads the ATP World Tour with 9 titles.


“I started a little bit too slow, in my opinion,” Nadal said.  “Then during the match I tried to play better and better every time.  I think I finished the match playing well, doing a few things well, moving myself better.


“Important thing at the end winning 6‑2, 6‑1, 6‑0. The result says that I did the right things.”


Radwanska and Li Na Gain Toronto Semis


By Brodie Elgin

(August 9, 2013) TORONTO – At 2-2 in the first set, Sara Errani winced. This wasn’t the first time she had played Agnieszka Radwanska. Last year the two battled to an eventual Radwanska victory in Istanbul at the Year End Championships, a match which lasted a staggering 3 hours and 29 minutes. She knew she was in for a strange match. As the sun beat down, the breaks came from all imaginable scenarios; great volleys at the net, bad errors, and winners after grueling points.”  I think we were playing a bit similar tennis.  That’s why a lot of running, a lot of long rallies, and that’s why I think our matches are always very long,” said Radwanska, prior to facing Errani.


With both players trading service holds to start the match, Radwanska and Errrani traded a nearly unbelievable 11 straight breaks before Radwanska finally held found herself up a commanding 7-6(1), 2-0 lead.


With neither player creating much pace, both players needed to find new ways to finish points or move players around. Errani was at her most effective when able to hit her forehand up the line or find extreme angles to spin the forehand cross court. However, Radwanska did an excellent job of trying to keep the ball to Errani’s backhand, particularly on her return, and getting to net to finish points when possible.


Unsurprisingly, the break lead didn’t last long and Errani and Rawanska battled to an even 5-5. With a couple of Errani errors, Radwanska broke yet again and finally put together a straight forward hold with four impressive winners, taking the match 7-6(1), 7-5 and advancing to the semifinals. She awaits Serena Williams.

 10062012 China Open Li Na in press 2

In the second semifinal of the day, Li Na had a straight forward win over Dominika Cibulkova, in 1 hour and 36 minutes. A streaky first set meant both players held and broke service three times each. But it was Li who would effectively raise her game in the tiebreak to win it 7-6(1).



Li insisted she wanted to continue to stick to her guns in the second set, and felt she was playing well. “I was thinking about, okay, one set.  Second set you should just continue to do what you should do.  You don’t have to be looking at what the opponent do.” From then on it was smooth sailing against Cibulkova, who recently won Stanford and is playing in her third straight week. Li saved both break points she faced in the second set and served at a cool 75% to take it easily, 6-2.


“I haven’t lost to her, but every time is tough.  I mean, never has [there been an] easy one,” said Li. “She was running pretty fast on the court, and she can hit everywhere on the court. So I have to ready for every second; otherwise I will lose the point.”


Li will take on Sorana Cirstea in the semifinals on Saturday. Li leads the head to head 5-1, including winning their two most recent matches, both on hard courts.

Brodie Elgin is the writer of mindtheracket.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @MindTheRacket. He is covering the Rogers Cup in Toronto for Tennis Panorama News, follow @TennisNewsTPN for updates.



Teenager Puig Ousts Fifth Seed Errani at Wimbledon

Sara Errani

Sara Errani

(June 24, 2013) A 19 year-old from Puerto Rico provided the first upset of the fortnight on the opening day of Wimbledon. Monica Puig stunned fifth seed Sara Errani 6-3, 6-2 in the first round.

Errani is better known as a clay court expert who was the French open runner-up in 2012.

“It’s a hard tournament for me, and of course it’s very important,” Errani said.  “But I don’t like too much the surface, so for this it’s tough.”

Puig nailed 38 winners past the Italian.

The 65th ranked Puig needed 5 match points to seal the win out on show court 18 in her first ever pro grass court match.

“My mom played tennis when she was very young, so she introduced me to tennis,” Puig told media.  “I kind of stuck with it.”

Errani praised her opponent. “She served very good, did not make many mistakes and hit the ball strong. My big problem here is that I can’t move how I want.”


Serena Williams to Meet Maria Sharapova for French Open Title

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

By Ros Satar

(June 6, 2013) PARIS – Victoria Azarenka’s burgeoning love affair with the clay came to a halt today, at the hands of Maria Sharapova 6-1, 2-6, 6-4.

In a three-setter interrupted by a brief wringing-out of a cloud, Sharapova did not have the best of starts.

It looked like she had left her first serve in the locker room, but had brought its best friend the double-fault out instead.

In truth, Azarenka did not have to do much except turn up for that first game, as Sharapova was broken to love.

But the situation did not last for long – it was clear that Sharapova had her eye in, quickly taking advantage of Azarenka’s errors, taking the first set in a little short of half an hour.

Azarenka managed to make a better fist of things, made all the easier when Sharapova gifted her the set with two consecutive double faults.

But the players also had to contend with a fidget-en-masse in the last game of the set as spots of rain fell, and the gentry in the expensive seats promptly allez-ed to afternoon tea at 15-0.

The crowd reactions also caused amusement – there was no doubt that the warmer applause was for the defending champion, but they were quick to whistle and boo (admittedly in the rain) as she challenged a point, and as the umpire had them on and off the chairs before finally taking them off.

The third set saw the errors that had been plaguing Azarenka in the first set return, although Sharapova made life hard for herself letting four match points go at 5-2.

There was no doubt at the second time of asking, thumping down an ace to finish it off.

Azarenka denied that Sharapova had cut off her rhythm or rushed her.

“There’s not much rhythm when we play each other.  We just try to, you know, take opportunity, whoever takes it first.”

Having joked in her last conference about her and clay moving in together, she was positive about her progress here this year.

“My game on clay got much better, and it’s just a matter of [the] whole process.

“Process started for me.  It unfortunately ended today in this tournament.

“But, you know, coming back next year there is so much to look forward to for me, and, you know, trying to figure it out and find it every year will be something that is going to motivate me to come back here.”

Sharapova was no doubt relieved to get the job after failing to take advantage of four match points.

“Despite having those two match points and not taking advantage of them, I was happy with the way it came out at 5‑4 and served it out.”

She will meet Serena Williams who demolished last year’s finalist Sara Errani for the loss of just one game, 6-0, 6-1 in 46 minutes.

As Errani picked up the vocal effort, the only sounds from Williams were the odd squeak as sent a ball flying long or wide.

And as the Italian finally got a game on the board, she raised her hands in triumph, as a gladiatrix might after facing down a lion.

But meal-time was quick to follow, with Williams finishing (as Sharapova had) with an ace.

When asked if playing her was soul-destroying at the moment, Williams allowed herself a smile.

“I would never say that.  Ever.

“But I just go out there and do the best that I can and that’s it. “

That being said there was no question of her giving up on any game, out of any sympathy.

“She’s a great girl.  I love her fighting spirit.  I really like her as a person.

“But when you go out there, you just have to play and forget about who you’re playing.”

Looking ahead to Saturday’s final, Sharapova had to face the inevitable question about her record against Williams, last beating her in 2004.

“Well, I’d be lying if it doesn’t bother me, obviously.  (Smiling.)

“But obviously she’s won so many matches already in a row on hard and clay, so I don’t think it really matters.

“You try to go out there and do something different, because whatever you have done just hasn’t performed well.

“I hope that I can.”

And Williams’ view of that record?

“It’s a different time, a different era, just a different match.

“But we have played a lot.  Just gotta do the best that I can.”


Errani Edges Radwanska for Semifinal Spot


By Ros Satar

(June 4, 2013) PARIS – 2012 finalist Sara Errani was the first of the women to book her slot in the semi-finals, with a tight straight sets 6-4, 7-6(6)win over fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska.


Errani started on the offensive early, breaking Radwanska in the third game, only to lose the advantage.


Errani got the better of the Pole, who had never made it past this round at the French Open, to lead with another break at 4-3, taking the first set in 44 minutes.


Radwanska got off to the quicker start in the second set with an immediate break and in this set the momentum see-sawed between the two of them.


Radwanska fought to get things back on even terms forcing a tie-break, saving one match point.


But it was just a brief respite when, at 6-7, a backhand swinging wide handed Errani her second successive semifinal slot.


Radwanska remained positive about her performance, in tricky breezy conditions.


Radwanska said: “She was playing very solid tennis today and didn’t miss much.

“Of course, I could do it in the second set, but, well, it just, you know, two points I was worse and, you know, and that was the match.”


Both women found the conditions tricky, with strong winds to the left side of the umpire’s chair.


Errani said: “in the first set I won one time, one game against the wind, and that was the key of the first set.


“[I] was lucky to close the second set, but could be also for her the second set.  [It} was a very near match.”