October 10, 2015

WTA Round-up; Pavlyuchenkova wins in Paris, Makarova in Pattaya City

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova photo courtesy of Taste of Tennis

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova photo courtesy of Taste of Tennis

(February 2, 2014 )Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova rallied to beat Sara Errani of Italy 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 to claim the Open GDF Suez in Paris, her sixth career WTA title.

In a topsy turvy match, Errani came back from a1-3 first set deficit winning seven games on the trot to take a 6-3, 2-0 lead. Pavlyuchenkova took the next seven games to even the match 3-6, 6-2, 1-0. The Russian broke the Italian in the eight game of the third set to take a 5-3 lead and served out the match.

Pavlyuchenkova’s title run saw her knock out three top 10 players in the same tournament for the first time in her WTA career – Maria Sharapova in the semifinals, Angelique Kerber of Germany in the quarterfinals and Errani in the final.

“When I lost seven games in a row I don’t really know what happened – maybe I was a little stressed because I was missing some shots and she was so solid,” said the champion. “Also, I was serving so well throughout the tournament and there were times today where I was struggling on serve. But I knew it was from my side, so if I just focused and kept fighting I could get it back.”

“I’m still very happy I could make the final,” said the losing finalist. “I had very good matches from the first round, from Knapp to Svitolina to Cornet, but I was a little bit more tired than normal in the match today because of yesterday. It was very tough to recover. But it was still a very good week for me.”

Ekaterina Makarova won her first title in in almost four years beating Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 7-6 (7) for the Pattaya Open crown on Sunday. The Russian ranked No. 28 won Eastbourne in 2010, her only other tournament victory.

“Today was a tough match,” said the Russian. “She was playing really good tennis and serving really well. I needed to be very focused on my return. I was a little bit nervous at the end, but I’m really happy to win my second title.”

Makarova was Pattaya City’s fourth Russian champion in the last six years.


Serena Williams to Face Jelena Jankovic in Istanbul Semis


Serena Williams

(October 25, 2013) Serena Williams will face off against Jelena Jankovic in the semifinals of the WTA Championships in Istanbul on Saturday while Li Na will play Petra Kvitova.

No. 4 seed Li Na earned her semifinal berth with a 6-2, 6-1 win on Friday over Victoria Azarenka who was suffering from a back injury. Li won the White Group with a perfect 3-0 record.

2011 WTA Championships winner Petra Kvitova, came back against Angelique Kerber 6-7 (3), 6-2, 6-3.

Defending champion Serena Williams has a 7-4 career edge against Jankovic. Li and Kvitova are even at 3-3 in head-to-head meetings.

The Williams-Jankovic match-up will be just the second time that two thirty-somethings are in the final four of the year-end championships.

Not in  action on Friday, Williams accepted her award for finishing 2013 with the top ranking for the third time. Williams also finished as the year-end No. 1 in 2002 and 2009.


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

Results – Friday, October 25, 2013
White Group
(4) Li Na (CHN) d. (2) Victoria Azarenka (BLR) 62 61
(6) Sara Errani (ITA) d. (7) Jelena Jankovic (SRB) 64 64

Red Group
(5) Petra Kvitova (CZE) d. (8) Angelique Kerber (GER) 67(3) 62 63

Order Of Play – Saturday, October 26, 2013
Center Court (from 13.00hrs)
1. Petrova/Srebotnik vs. Hsieh/Peng
2. Li Na vs. Petra Kvitova (NB 15.00hrs)
3. Serena Williams vs. Jelena Jankovic
4. Errani/Vinci vs. Makarova/Vesnina


Serena Williams First to Reach Istanbul Semifinals


(October 24, 2013) Serena Williams completed round-robin play at the WTA Championships in Istanbul with a perfect 3-0 record in the Red Group without dropping a set as she defeated Petra Kvitova 6-2, 6-3 on Thursday in 72 minutes. She improved her record against the Czech to 5-0.


Williams dominated Kvitova in every way. Williams hit 27 winners, hit 11 aces, fought off all four break points against her, won 15 straight points in one part of the match and won 18 consecutive points on her serve at one point.


The 32-year-old defending champion is three wins behind Martina Navratilova, who holds the record of 21 straight wins in the WTA Year-End.

Williams is having a career year going 76-4 with 10 titles in 2013. She trying to become the first woman to defend the year-end event title since Justine Henin in 2007. The world No. 1 is bidding to win her 4th WTA Championships crown. Henin was also the last women to win 10 titles, also in 2007.

Despite the loss, Kvitova who is 1-1 in the Red Group still has a chance to advance to the semis, should she defeat Angelique Kerber in group play on Friday.

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

Results – Thursday, October 24, 2013
Red Group
(1) Serena Williams (USA) d. (5) Petra Kvitova (CZE) 62 63
(8) Angelique Kerber (GER) d. (3) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) 62 62

White Group
(4) Li Na (CHN) d. (7) Jelena Jankovic (SRB) 63 26 63

Order Of Play – Friday, October 25, 2013
Center Court (from 17.00hrs)
1. Victoria Azarenka vs. Li Na
2. Petra Kvitova vs. Angelique Kerber
3. Sara Errani vs. Jelena Jankovic


Serena Williams Sails, Jankovic Shocks Azarenka in Istanbul


Jelena Jankovic

Jelena Jankovic

(October 23, 2013) Top seed Serena Williams remained undefeated in Red Group play while No. 2 Victoria Azarenka fell to former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic in the White Group on Wednesday at the WTA Championships in Istanbul.


Williams was too much of a force for Agnieszka Radwanska as she dismissed her 6-2, 6-4 in the last match of the day. Williams increase her perfect record over Radwanska to 8-0. Williams has only ever lost one set to Radwanska and that came in the 2012 Wimbledon final.


Williams who is 2-0 in round-robin play will match up against undefeated Petra Kvitova next. Williams is 75-4 for 2013.


The upset contest of the day belonged to Jelena Jankovic who downed Azarenka 6-4, 6-3, breaking a four-match losing skid against the Belarusian. Jankovic is coming back into the form that made her a top 10 player. She’s back in the top ten for the first time since 2011, currently ranked No. 8.


Azarenka has struggled since reaching the finals of the US Open, falling in the opening rounds of Tokyo and Beijing. She also struggled in her first round-robin match in Istanbul, a three-set win over Sara Errani.


In more White Group action, Li Na opened up Wednesday’s play with a 6-3, 7-6(5) win over Sara Errani. Li was forced to rally from a 1-3 deficit in the second set, as well as the tiebreak to move past Errani. Li’s record against Errani is now 6-0.


The top two records in each group  will advance to the semifinals.


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

Results – Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Red Group
(1) Serena Williams (USA) d. (3) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) 62 64

White Group
(7) Jelena Jankovic (SRB) d. (2) Victoria Azarenka (BLR) 64 63
(4) Li Na (CHN) d. (6) Sara Errani (ITA) 63 76(5)

Order Of Play – Thursday, October 24, 2013
Center Court (from 17.00hrs)
1. Li Na vs. Jelena Jankovic
2. Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Angelique Kerber
3. Serena Williams vs. Petra Kvitova


Serena Williams Crushes Kerber in Opening Match in Istanbul

Serena Williams

(October 22, 2013) No. 1 Serena Williams demolished Angelique Kerber 6-3, 6-1 to begin her quest to defend last year’s WTA Championships title and to win her fourth year-end title. Kerber is one of only a few women to beat Williams in the last two years when she bested the American in Cincinnati in August of 2012.

Kerber told media that Williams was playing “unbelievable” and that she had no chance.

Williams is having a banner year going 74-4 with 10 titles so far in 2013. She trying to to be the first woman to defend the year-end event title since Justine Henin in 2007. Henin was also the last women to win 10 titles, also in 2007.

Williams has passed the $10 million mark in prize money for the year. Should she defend the title and go undefeated she would surpass the $12 million dollars for the year.

In the final match of the day, 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova beat Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 6-4.


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

Results – Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Red Group
(1) Serena Williams (USA) d. (8) Angelique Kerber (GER) 63 61
(5) Petra Kvitova (CZE) d. (3) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) 64 64

White Group
(2) Victoria Azarenka (BLR) d. (6) Sara Errani (ITA) 76(4) 62

Order Of Play – Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Center Court (from 17.00hrs)
1. Li Na vs. Sara Errani
2. Victoria Azarenka vs. Jelena Jankovic
3. Serena Williams vs. Agnieszka Radwanska


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.


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.”