2014/04/18

Approach Shots – Judy Murray Q & A Part Two

 

JudyMurray

 

(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

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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.”

Nadal

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.”

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Radwanska and Li Na Gain Toronto Semis

AgniezskaRadwanskaFaceoff2wearingraptorsshirt

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.

 

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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.”

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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.”

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Errani Edges Radwanska for Semifinal Spot

ErranidefeatsStosur

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.”

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Notes and Quotes From Day One at the 2013 French Open

 

(May 26, 2013) A few of the quotes from the news conferences from Day 1 at the French Open.

Venus Williams

Asked about her preparation for Roland Garros:

“Extremely unideal.

“Definitely, you know ‑‑ definitely been struggling.  Just wanted to come here and try to ‑‑ you know, try to play.  I mean, I think my movement is awesome, but I just haven’t played any matches and just haven’t hit any serves, and it’s just hard to be perfect in the first match.

“I think there were periods where, you know, I found some rhythm and there were periods where I didn’t.  I tried very hard, but my opponent just played a little better.”

 

Venus admitted that problems with her back prevented her from serving with more speed:

“I can’t really serve very hard.  It’s painful when I do that.  But I’m getting better.  I just, you know, ran out of time to get better for this tournament.

“My strategy was more or less to put the ball in, and that’s very difficult for me, too, because that’s not who I am.  But that’s all I had.  So that was challenging to, you know, be conservative on the serve and then go to be aggressive during the point.  It’s like, you know, you have to, you know, suddenly change your mindset.  That’s a little challenging.

“So I’m just, you know, obviously going to try to, you know ‑‑ I want my serve back.  I’m going to try to get it back for Wimbledon.”

“Sometimes you can just play yourself into the tournaments, and maybe if I was able to win that match maybe I could have continued to play better off the ground.  I’m not sure how much better I could play off the serve.

“That’s sometimes how it works in tennis, but it’s just been a very challenging injury for me.”

Serena Williams

 

Asked about her rivalry with Martina Hingis and if her role as coach is a good thing for women’s tennis.

“I don’t know if it’s good for women’s tennis, but it’s exciting to see Martina around and see her wisdom going to another player.  And Pavlyuchenkova, I know she had a really good win today.  Tough win.  It was good for her.

“I have seen improvements already.  I think they make a great team.  They get along well.  They seem to have so much fun.  I think it’s really nice.

 

 

Pablo Carreno Busta

After his loss to Roger Federer, Carreno Busta was asked about the difference between playing the futures and challenger events versus the ATP Tour.

“Yeah, in futures the players plays good, but maybe the level was really different.  Roger is No. 2 of the world and was maybe the best in the history, so I think that it’s impossible compare the level in futures with the level of Roger.

“I think I play eight futures this year and I play really good.  I won seven, and it was very, very good for my confidence and for my level in tennis.

“But I think now for me the best time to be better is playing these matches and with these opponents.”

 

Roger Federer

 

Federer shared his opinion about the Sunday starts at the French Open:

“Well, I mean, yeah, I mean, I remember they sort of forced me to play on Sunday years back to promote their Sunday thing.  I was against it just because I felt like the way they got the Sunday, you know, first was maybe, oh, let’s try it out.  Next thing you know like they have it for a lifetime or what?  Is that how it works?

“So I didn’t agree with how things went along.  From that standpoint today, you know, it is what it is, but it is the only Grand Slam that has it.  Wimbledon does it in 13 days and the French does it in 15.

“So it doesn’t make sense, but I do understand that a weekend for tennis is very important for the people who can show up instead of ‑‑ it anyway is very odd that we do start the tournament week on a Monday where everybody goes back to work.  Doesn’t really work.

“But, anyway, it’s how we are.  So I get the Sunday start, but it’s always something that’s a debate, you know, within the ATP and the French Open.

“But I’m happy this time around.  I told them if they wanted me to play Sunday, whatever, I’m fine with it.  They took that opportunity right away, so… (He said smiling)”

Sara Errani

Last year’s losing finalist gave her thoughts about returning to the finals this year:

” I’m not thinking about that.  It’s a new tournament for me.  Also last year was unbelievable tournament, best tournament of my life, how you say.

“I don’t want to think about that.  I just want to come here and play another tournament, a new tournament like I do other week, try to think that it’s important tournament, but is only one more tournament.

“So I try to be like that, try to concentrate on my tennis, not too much about last year or what I defend and these things.”

 

Xavier Malisse

 

After his loss to Milos Raonic,Malise gave his houghts on playing Roland Garros next year:

“Perhaps I will come back, but not necessarily in the top ranks.  I don’t know.  It’s difficult really to say.  After last year I felt as though I was really done so I don’t know if I could have come back, but of course here I am.  Who knows what’s going to happen now.

“But I would like to play one more year.  It’s nice playing here because it’s all very special here because everybody is here and the Belgians are here.

“But you never know.  You never know what the future will hold.”

 

Mallory Burdette

Asked about how comfortable she felt playing on clay:

“It’s definitely a bit of a different game, but it’s nothing that we can’t adjust to.  I can’t really speak for the other players, but it’s a bit of a challenge.  You have to change up your strategy a little bit, especially if you’re a big hitter.

“It takes a little bit of effort, but it’s fun and it’s a good challenge.

 

Stanford grad Burdette was asked what advice would she give high school seniors deciding whether or not to go to college.

“I think one of the biggest things is to realize that everybody is different.  So your path may be very different from someone else’s.

“When it comes to assessing your game, I would say get a lot of opinions from other coaches, hear what they have to say.

“Also, what are you comfortable with right now?  Do you feel like you’re in a position mentally and emotionally where you can grow and develop while you’re on your own on the tour?  Then go for it.  You have a good support system, financially everything is in line.

“If you feel like you can’t do that, then school is a great option.  It’s a place where you can grow and develop and go through some tough times.  You have a team there to support you and coaches with you at all times; whereas on the tour you’re a little bit more on your own.

“So it depends on the individual.  You really just have to lok at what will work for you.”

 

Milos Raonic

 

Raonic who is now working with former pro Ivan Ljubicic commented on the difference between working with his old coach and now Ljubicic.

 

“I don’t think there is really too much difference.  I think just since it’s a new start with something, you just sort of go forward with it, with the game plan, and you sort of just lay that trust there.

“And just part of it is to be a bit more aggressive, to be quite a bit more aggressive and try to make the opponent more and more comfortable and not really settle for rally shots, trying to have more purpose on every shot, trying to sort of get that rather than waiting for my opponent to give it to me.  Sort of reaching out there and trying to take it for myself.

“Ivan is helping me out as a friend at the moment.”

 

Gilles Simon

What was going on in Simon’s mind when Hewitt evened the fifth set at 5-5:

“Well, I knew in the game I had to play against him, but unfortunately I just didn’t manage to do it at the beginning.  That’s the least I can say.

“I was feeling bad.  I didn’t have a good rhythm on the court.  It takes me a long time to find it.  Then it was better, a lot better.  I was in control.

“But unfortunately at the end he played one more time great tennis.  And it’s never easy to finish when you see the guy coming back 5‑1, 5‑2, 5‑3 after a few match points.

“So I’m just happy that I managed to win this one.  I think it was a very difficult match today for me, and I just hope I’m going to be better on the next round.”

 

Lleyton Hewitt

“It was more just blisters on my toe.  You know, it was uncomfortable but you can play through it.  He obviously stepped up his game from the start of the third set.  I was able to hang in there.  I had small opportunities.

“Broke back and got on serve at 3‑All and couldn’t quite ‑‑ if I could have kept in front in the third set and put a bit more pressure on him towards the end of the set I might have had a bit of a chance.”

“You know, would have liked to have been on the other end of it.  Yeah, disappointing, but, yeah, I didn’t obviously come here with massive expectations.”

Sam Querrey

On only his second win at Roland Garros:

“Yeah, feels great to get a win.  My other win was on this court, too, so that’s the only court I can win on here.

“The clay season has been a little rough.  Pulled out of Houston, and the Masters Series, I played well in both of them, but took two losses.  And then Nice was a little disappointing.

“I just focused on my attitude out here today and played the best match I’ve played all year on any surface.”

Shelby Rogers

 

My first Grand Slam main draw win.  And especially against a French player.  I was expecting the crowd to be against me.  I was ready for a battle.  She’s a good player and has got a lot of power.  Great serve.

“So I was ready for a battle; things turned out in my favor today.”

 

Michael Llodra

 

On whether or not he’ll retire after this year:

“I made my decision.  Because it’s still great pleasure.  So it’s going to be another year where I’ll have to play on the tournaments on which I feel good.

“But I made that decision.  I have too much fun on the court.  I’m in good shape.  And it’s always pleasant to have people supporting you, saying, Well, you’re one of the last ones playing with the kind of game you have.

“So I will probably have a lighter schedule.  But there are tournaments I like playing on, and I will continue.”

 

David Ferrer

Ferrer on his admiration of Lleyton Hewitt:

“Well, I saw what he did during his match, Hewitt, yeah.  He’s a player whom I admire.  He was like a benchmark for me from the very first day when I started playing tennis, because he’s such an excellent player.

“But, you know, at the end of the day everybody does their best, and experience counts a lot.  But the most important thing is that you have to love tennis.  Lleyton was No. 1.  Well, today he’s not got his best ranking, but he’s still fighting.

“And we, the younger generations ‑‑ or, rather, when we were young and for younger players, it’s a reference.  He should be considered as a reference.  They should look at him and see that he always reacts in a positive way.  Even though sometimes you’re down, your scores are awful, you do your best.  And this is something I admire from Lleyton.”

 

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News

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Serena Williams Thinks Her Way Into Madrid Final

 

Serena Day 2 Press Conference

By Tumaini Carayol

(May 11, 2013) When Serena Williams opened with an effortless forehand winner before a statement opening service hold, one could be forgiven for assuming this was an indication that she intended to put right what had gone so terribly wrong in the previous match. That all the factors that contributed to her being on the receiving end of a bagel and a 2-4 third set deficit to Anabel Medina Garrigues were to be eradicated from living memory with a performance worthy of the world No. 1.

One was wrong.

The following games would showcase the younger Williams’ game in a rapid descent back to the pits of hell as she impatiently expected the match to fall into place without an ounce of effort. Rather than working with the clay, the world No. 1 essentially attempted to play against the basic nature of the surface, taking large and unnecessary cuts at the ball and directing the majority of shots with no margin, width or imagination. For a seasoned claycourter like Sara Errani, it was all too easy. When Williams wasn’t committing a myriad of errors, missing laughable smashes and generally gifting the majority of points to her opponent, Errani had no problem with exploiting Williams’ painfully linear play, simply redirecting her shots crosscourt and exploiting her sketchy movement on the red dirt.

One of the more maddening aspects of Serena on clay is that she is more than capable of embracing the surface and using it to compliment some of her own strengths. When discussing her sole Roland Garros triumph in 2002, people often tell of a player who was so supremely greater than the other thousands of professional female players that surface was irrelevant. While this is true, it ignores the fact that her final in Berlin and triumphs in Rome and Roland Garros that year were not the product of her playing some ballistic and otherworldly attacking tennis on clay. She prospered by obeying the surface’s core rules. She moved better than her opposition on clay, constructed points with angles and width, and understood that, to be a consistent success, it was often necessary to outmaneuver opponents rather than outhit them. Sure, there was power – lots of it – but it was tempered and she attacked with discretion. The result was that her clay court duels with Jennifer Capriati were some of the most physical ever seen. Eleven years later, though aspects of her game have notably deteriorated – her movement on clay, for example – many of those qualities remain hidden under the surface of her game, waiting to be utilized once again.

As the bleeding began again and the world number one found herself down 1-3, similar thoughts appeared to well up in the mind of Serena. From the large and unnecessary swipes at the ball came a sense of calmness as Williams finally began to think and endeavored to collaborate with the conditions rather than play against them. Out of nowhere, she began to almost exclusively attack cross-court, alternating between hitting with great depth and using the width of the court. Though errors still littered her game and left the first set in the balance, the results were immediate. She was able to gradually drag the defending French Open finalist off the court and defeated her through combinations of shots rather than single booming blows. Fittingly, after three missed set points, the 7-5 set was closed out with a perfectly-measured acute angled forehand.

It wasn’t until that first set was safely tucked away that the shackles were unleashed and Williams was truly able to play. The riskier tennis returned, but the world number one was able to strike a comfortable balance between constructing points and attacking as Errani simply played into Williams’ hands. In contrast to the hour-long first set in which 36 of Errani’s points came courtesy of Williams’ 28 unforced errors, the second set was a far more routine affair as Williams cruised to victory.

Though far from Williams’ most impressive victory, it showcased Serena at her thoughtful best – a vital quality that will aid her in her pursuit of the improbable-yet-possible feat that is her replicating her grand clay triumph of 11 years ago.

But, for now, both of her eyes will be on Maria Sharapova as the world No. 1 and French Open champion battle for the Madrid title and top spot on Sunday.

Tumaini Carayol is in Madrid covering the Madrid Open for Tennis Panorama News. He is a contributing writer at On The Baseline, and writes about professional tennis at his site Foot Fault. Follow his tournament updates on @TennisNewsTPN and his personal twitter @TumCarayol.

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Sharapova Outlasts Errani in Miami

Maria Sharapova with media

By Kevin Ware

(March 27, 2013) MIAMI – Maria Sharapova overcame a late second-set charge to defeat Sara Errani 7-5, 7-5 in their quarterfinal match at the Sony Open on Wednesday. The match, an error-filled affair for both, lasted just under two and a half hours.

Sharapova is often quoted saying “A win is a win”, but there are few other positives besides the win that she can take from this match. She hit 44 winners against a whopping 57 unforced errors. To be fair, it wasn’t the cleanest match for Sara either, who hit a far less daunting 13 winners against 25 unforced errors.

Maria Sharapova

Put into context, Sharapova’s unforced error count for two sets was slightly less than the 61 unforced errors committed by Novak Djokovic in his four-set win over Andy Murray at the Australian Open.  Additionally, she served 6 aces against 14 double faults. To say that it was not her best day would be an understatement.

“Some days you can’t go out on the court and everything goes in and you feel great, and you’re playing the way you imagined to play. It just doesn’t happen.”

With a title run in Indian Wells, Sharapova had looked to continue her winning ways in Miami for the rare IW-Miami combination. She’d lost just 12 games in her previous 3 matches, and looked to be in top form. But there were early signs that this wouldn’t be her best match.

Though she won the first 3 games for a 3-0 lead, Sharapova had already hit 8 winners, committed 10 unforced errors, and served 3 double faults. Things didn’t get worse, but they certainly didn’t get better as she continued to struggle with her serve and wayward forehand. She was broken at love when serving for the set at 5-4, but got the break for 6-5.  She held to take the first set.

Sharapova readily acknowledged her inconsistent level of play. “I put a few points together pretty well, and then, you know, either my concentration or my focus wasn’t there.”

The second set offered more of the same, with a slightly higher quality of tennis. The best moments of drama came at 4-5 when Sharapova fought off three break/set points before finally converting her third game point to even the second set at 5 games apiece.  Sharapova won the final three games of the match, ending it in the same manner as she began.

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Errani did her best to keep Sharapova off-balance with strong forehands up the line followed by hard crosscourt shots, but it wasn’t enough.  “With her (Sharapova) the points are always very fast and very short.  I like another style of game, but it’s very difficult to make that because she is very strong.”

Errani Sharapova handshake

Even after this third loss to Sharapova, Errani was happy with her first quarterfinal appearance in Miami before heading into her preferred clay court season.  When asked why Sharapova seems to have so much trouble with her game, Errani jokingly responded, “I don’t know.  If I know it I can do more to win.”

Sharapova next faces Jelena Jankovic, a 6-4, 7-6,(6) 6-3 winner over Errani’s doubles partner, Roberta Vinci.

Kevin Ware is in Miami covering the Sony Open as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his live updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.  Follow his personal twitter @SFTennisFreak.

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Serena Williams Moves Back to No. 1 After Win Over Kvitova

SerenaWilliamsFaceoff6

(February 15, 2013) Serena Williams returned to No. 1 ranking by virtue of her 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 quarterfinal win over Petra Kvitova in Doha at the Qatar Open. The win makes Williams the oldest WTA No. 1 ever at 31 years four months old when the rankings come out on Monday. Chris Evert held that record previously back in 1985, short of her 31st birthday. Williams was last at world No. 1 in October 2010. She first became No. 1 at 20 years old on July 8, 2002.

Williams had to come back from 1-4 down in the third set. “I just hung in there and she was playing so good,” said Williams on court after the win. “Every time I looked around she was hitting a winner and I thought if I could just stay in there. I could hear the crowd cheering for me, and I don’t get that all the time, so that was nice.”

“I’ve been through so much and I just never thought I’d be here,” said a teary-eyed Williams. “I’m so sensitive nowadays.”

“I’m always crying, but I never thought I would be here again. I’ve been through so much and I just never thought I’d be here, so thank you Jehovah for giving me another chance.”

“This is another amazing accomplishment for a superstar champion who has played an integral role, over the past 15 years, in solidifying tennis as the global leader in women’s sports,” said Stacey Allaster, WTA Chairman & CEO through a news release. “As we celebrate 40 years of the WTA this season, it seems fitting to have Serena, one of the sport’s all-time greats and global icons, return to the World No.1 ranking.”

Williams will face Maria Sharapova in the semifinals on Saturday after the Russian defeated Australian Sam Stosur 6-2 6-4. Current No. 1 Victoria Azarenka also advanced with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Sara Errani.

 

 

Williams sent out a message to her twitter followers after the match:

 

SERENA’S WEEKS AT NO.1:

July 8, 2002 – August 10, 2003 57 weeks

September 8, 2008 – October 5, 2008 4 weeks

February 2, 2009 – April 19, 2009 11 weeks

October 12, 2009 – October 25, 2009 2 weeks

November 2, 2009 – October 10, 2010 49 weeks

February 18, 2013 – current No.1 1 week

 

 

OLDEST PLAYERS TO HOLD WORLD NO.1 SINCE 1975:

Serena Williams 31 years, 4 months, 24 days

Chris Evert 30 years, 11 months, 3 days (Nov 24, 1985)

Martina Navratilova 30 years, 9 months, 29 days (Aug 16, 1987)

Lindsay Davenport 29 years, 7 months, 8 days (Jan 29, 2006)

Serena Williams 29 years, 0 months, 14 days (Oct 10, 2010)

Steffi Graf 27 years, 9 months, 16 days (Mar 30, 1997)

QATAR TOTAL OPEN
Doha, Qatar
February 11-17, 2013
$2,369,000/Premier
Hard/Outdoors

Results - Friday, February 15, 2013
Singles – Quarterfinals
(1) Victoria Azarenka (BLR) d. (6) Sara Errani (ITA) 62 62
(2) Serena Williams (USA) d. (7) Petra Kvitova (CZE) 36 63 75
(3) Maria Sharapova (RUS) d. (8) Samantha Stosur (AUS) 62 64
(4) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) d. (10) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) 62 75

Doubles – Quarterfinals
(1) Errani/Vinci (ITA/ITA) d. Hantuchova/Medina Garrigues (SVK/ESP) 63 46 1311 (Match TB)
(2) Petrova/Srebotnik (RUS/SLO) d. (7) Hlavackova/Safarova (CZE/CZE) 61 61
(3) Kops-Jones/Spears (USA/USA) d. Raymond/Stosur (USA/AUS) 62 64
(6) Groenefeld/Peschke (GER/CZE) d. (4) Llagostera Vives/Zheng (ESP/CHN) 63 60

Order Of Play – Saturday, February 16, 2013
Centre Court (from 15.30hrs)
1. Errani/Vinci vs. Groenefeld/Peschke
2. Victoria Azarenka vs. Agnieszka Radwanska (NB 18.00hrs)
3. Maria Sharapova vs. Serena Williams

Court 1 (from 16.30hrs
1. Kops-Jones/Spears vs. Petrova/Srebotnik

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