2014/12/19

Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic named 2014 ITF World Champions

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

(December 18, 2014) The ITF announced on Thursday that Serena Williams of the United States and Novak Djokovic of Serbia are the 2014 ITF World Champions. Williams is named Women’s World Champion for the fifth time, while this is the fourth occasion that Djokovic has received the honor.

 

Americans Bob and Mike Bryan are named Men’s Doubles World Champions for the 11th time in 12 years, while Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci of Italy become Women’s Doubles World Champions for the third successive year.

 

Catherine “CiCi” Bellis of the United States and Russia’s Andrey Rublev are named ITF Junior World Champions, while the ITF Wheelchair World Champions are Japanese duo Yui Kamiji and Shingo Kunieda, who becomes men’s champion for the sixth time.

 

The ITF World Champions will receive their awards at the 2015 ITF World Champions Dinner on Tuesday 2 June, in Paris, during Roland Garros.

 

Serena Williams is named Women’s World Champion for the fifth occasion, after maintaining the No. 1 ranking throughout the year. The 33-year-old captured her 18th Grand Slam title at the US Open to equal the achievements of Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert. She won six other titles during the year, including the season-ending WTA Finals. Williams is the oldest player ever to be named an ITF Singles World Champion.

 

Williams said: “I’m so honored to be named ITF World Champion for the fifth time. This was a year of challenges and triumphs, so to win another Grand Slam and retain my year-end No. 1 ranking is an accomplishment I’m very proud of. I’m grateful to have the support of the tennis community in every way possible. I can’t wait for 2015.”

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic becomes Men’s World Champion for the fourth time after reclaiming the No. 1 ranking in 2014. The 27-year-old won his seventh Grand Slam title at Wimbledon, and was also a finalist at Roland Garros and semifinalist at the US Open. He won a total of seven titles during the year including the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals. Djokovic is one of only four men to be named World Champion four or more times, alongside Ivan Lendl, Pete Sampras and Roger Federer.

 

Bob and Mike Bryan become Men’s Doubles World Champions for the 11th time after capturing their 16th Grand Slam title and 100th title overall at the 2014 US Open. They won a total of ten titles during the year, including the ATP World Tour Finals, taking their total career titles to 103. They were also runners-up at Wimbledon. The brothers now stand within two trophies of the record of wheelchair tennis star Esther Vergeer, who was named World Champion 13 times.

 

Mike Bryan said: “The 2014 season was one of our best seasons on tour and it’s one we’ll fondly remember for a lot of reasons. We look forward to the awards dinner in Paris and sharing the stage with all the other world champions.”

 

Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci are only the second pair to be named Women’s Doubles World Champions on three occasions. The Italians completed the career Grand Slam with their first victory at Wimbledon, and were also champions at the Australian Open and runners-up at Roland Garros. They won a total of five titles during the year and finished 2014 co-ranked No. 1 on the WTA doubles rankings.

 

Errani and Vinci said: “We are both really happy to be Women’s Doubles World Champions for the third consecutive year. It is a great pleasure and honour to have finished this year as number one in the doubles ranking again. Our goal for 2015 is to defend our Australian Open and Wimbledon titles.”

 

ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti said: “All of our World Champions have demonstrated great consistency at the top of the game in one of the strongest eras for our sport. Serena Williams is one of the toughest competitors of all-time, while Novak Djokovic’s performances at the biggest events make him a deserving winner. Bob and Mike Bryan’s remarkable achievement is a testament to their continued drive and determination, while Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci have shown the importance of teamwork both on and off court.”

 

The ITF’s selection of its senior World Champions is based on an objective system that considers all results during the year, but gives special weight to the Grand Slam tournaments, and two ITF international team competitions, Davis Cup by BNP Paribas and Fed Cup by BNP Paribas.

 

Catherine “CiCi” Bellis is the second American in three years to become ITF Girls World Champion, and is the youngest world champion since 2006. The 15-year-old won four singles title during the year, sealing the year-end No. 1 ranking at last week’s Orange Bowl. She also led the United States to victory in the Junior Fed Cup by BNP Paribas, one year after being a member of the USA’s 14-and-under ITF World Junior Tennis winning team.

 

Bellis said: “It was my goal to be the year-end No. 1 from when I started playing in the juniors two years ago and I am ecstatic that I was able to reach this milestone as a 15-year-old.  It is an honour to be in such great company with all of the amazing and legendary juniors before me.”

 

Andrey Rublev is the first Russian male in any category to be named ITF World Champion after achieving the year-end No. 1 boys’ junior ranking. The 17-year-old was the most consistent performer on the ITF Junior Circuit, winning his first Grand Slam title at Roland Garros, and capturing singles bronze and doubles silver at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing. He reached a total of five singles finals during the year, winning two titles.

 

Rublev said: “I am happy to finish this year as World Champion. I thank my family, coaches and team for all the support I was getting all the time. I also understand that this is just the first step and will do my best to score further victories.”

 

Shingo Kunieda becomes Men’s Wheelchair World Champion for the sixth time after retaining the year-end world No. 1 ranking. The 30-year-old only lost one match all year, winning 12 singles titles on the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour and boasting a 51-1 overall win-loss record. He won all three Grand Slam singles events, taking his total major titles to 17, and was also champion at the season-ending NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters.

 

Kunieda said: “I am very happy to be world champion six times. I played well this year and still feel I am improving my tennis. I’d like to thank my team and am already looking forward to next season.”

 

Yui Kamiji is named Women’s Wheelchair World Champion for the first time after dominating the Grand Slam tournaments. The 20-year-old captured her first two major titles at Roland Garros and the US Open, and was runner-up at the Australian Open. She also partnered Britain’s Jordanne Whiley to the women’s doubles Grand Slam. Kamiji won a total of eight singles titles during 2014 and is the first Asian woman to receive this honour.

 

Kamiji said: “2014 is definitely the year to remember in my career. I was proud to win my first two Grand Slam titles and reach the final of the Australian Open. It was also very special to achieve the doubles calendar Grand Slam and win the Doubles Masters with my best friend on tour Jordanne Whiley.”

 

ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti said: “I would like to thank all the 2014 ITF World Champions for their contribution to another memorable year for our sport.”

Share

Serena Williams Hit the Road for the Ultimate RUN South Beach for Charity

 

Serena Williams Live Ultimate Run

Serena Williams Live Ultimate Run

 

(December 14, 2014) Most likely inspired by her close friend and fellow tennis pro Caroline Wozniacki, who completed the New York City Marathon in November, tennis’ world No. 1 Serena Williams hit the road with more than two thousand runners from South Florida and around the country for the inaugural Serena Williams Ultimate RUN South Beach on Sunday.

Williams ran her first quarter marathon among others who also participated in the 5K Run/Walk and Team Challenge – bringing together runners of all ages and abilities. The run raised money for the Serena Williams Fund, which provides assistance to families affected by violent crimes and providing underprivileged youth around the world with the highest quality of education available to them. Serena’s sister, Venus Williams, also gave her support by running the 5K.

Serena Williams Live Ultimate Run

Serena who completed the 6. 55 mile run in 1 hour 14 minutes, said after the race:  “Today’s run was so enjoyable and the spirit of everyone who came out was so passionate which helped me to build the energy I needed for my first quarter marathon.  I’ve never ran that far before, so I had to pace myself, but I was pleased with my finish time.  I’d like to thank all the sponsors and everyone who participated in the run to help raise money for underprivileged youth around the world.”

South Beach’s famous Ocean Drive which was closed to traffic for the Ultimate Run’s was the scene for the start and finish for the race. The course took runners through South Beach. Past New York City Marathon, Boston Marathon winner and 1984 Olympian, Alberto Salazar, fired the starting gun for the Ultimate Run.

Serena Williams Live Ultimate Run
“Our inaugural Serena Williams Ultimate Run was quite a memorable event,” said Marc Wachter, the event’s executive producer. “Runners of all ages and abilities were very excited to come out in their thousands on a very early and crisp Miami December morning to run alongside Serena for a great cause.  We are thrilled to have had such an iconic athlete behind the first in our Ultimate Run series and Serena’s enthusiasm really gave every participant the Ultimate experience.  We look forward to making this one of Miami’s most popular sporting occasions on South Florida’s annual event calendar.”

Event sponsors included Nike, Gatorade, Delta, Beats by Dre and MISSION Athletecare.

 

Share

International Premier Tennis League in Manila

By Abigail Hinto

(December 1, 2014) MANILA –  There is no other word to describe it but surreal.  After fitting tennis tournaments to my vacations in order to see live tennis, professional tennis and its superstars have finally come to me.  I’ve seen and covered most of these players before, but seeing them introduced to the Manila crowd to raucous cheers was goose bumps-inducing.  Andy Murray, Maria Sharapova, and Serena Williams, the current best of the world were actually playing on a tennis court in my city.  Not to mention the legends Goran Ivanisevic, Carlos Moya and Patrick Rafter; exactly the players I followed when I first became a fan of the sport.  Even when I finally got the opportunity to travel and watch tennis, I never imagined I would still get the chance to experience seeing my early favorites who are now long retired, play live.

 

I have to admit that I was initially skeptical when the concept of the International Premier Tennis League was introduced, as I would guess most tennis fans were.  Would they really be able to get the players, especially the superstars on board?  Tinkering with the rules seemed sacrilege to the long tradition of the sport.  But then Manila got a franchise when IPTL had to pull out of Bangkok because of political unrest in that city, and I knew no matter what, I was going to be there.

 

Let me now say straight out that all the new rules introduced for the league, made to make the matches faster and therefore more conducive to television, are just secondary to the real tennis being played on court and the team atmosphere displayed.  Yes, it was real tennis.  While some players like Maria Sharapova first seemed undecided whether she would treat the game as exhibition or competition, with nary a shriek heard from her at first, probably the thought of an embarrassing loss against Kristina Mladenovic in her first match for her home team spurred her to increase her level of intensity and turn the match around.  I also didn’t think we would have seen Mladenovic be unable to close out the set after being up two breaks if nerves weren’t involved.  Ana Ivanovic played flawless tennis for her part against Sharapova and displayed her pleasure at her level of play with her trademark fist pumps and “ajdes.”  Andy Murray was crazily retrieving balls all over the court to make-up for his poor level of shot making.  Even the legends were groaning at missed shots and opportunities.  As one hardcore tennis fan who attended the tournament expressed, she was indeed worried at first whether the players would take the matches seriously because she still believes the tournament is just an exhibition.  But she ended up being satisfied with what she saw on court.  Even the players themselves were surprised how everyone was treating the matches seriously.  In the end, they are competitors at heart who want nothing more than to win.  And playing for a team, which they very seldom get to do, increases that desire to be able to help put your team in a winning position.  Stakes may be lower than playing on tour, but wins don’t necessarily mean less.

 

The team competition format also allowed for players to showcase not just their tennis but their personalities as well.  Gael Monfils, to no one’s surprise shone in this kind of format.  The fans embraced his goofiness and showmanship, but also marveled at his shot making.  Mladenovic, who outside serious tennis fans most in the stadium have probably never heard of before continually gained fans as the three days got on.  Treat Huey, who even though was the local boy most Filipinos have never seen play awed the crowd with Jo-Wilfred Tsonga once they finally gelled on the 2nd day.  Goran Ivanisevic will always be willing to please a crowd.  You see these players interacting with each other on the sidelines which you will never see just watching regular tour matches on tv.  There’s Murray and Daniel Nestor who couldn’t stop talking and laughing.  Same for Serena Williams and Daniela Hantuchova.  Ivanovic and Sania Mirza were practically inseparable, and who could ever forget Ivanovic’s absence of dancing skills thanks to Monfils.  Of course, there were the more silent and reticent types, but that’s showing their personalities too.

 

As a team competition, it was no surprise that the team that got on together from the get go won this leg of the league.  The Indian Aces was clearly that team.  Right off the bat, they were huddling during changeovers, cheering loudly for their teammates and just generally showed the most positive team spirit.  The Aces’ players continually acknowledged this fact saying how much they’re having fun together.  Not that the other teams didn’t embrace the team aspect of the competition, but Manila Mavericks for one took time to gel together, probably not helped by having the more introvert players while the Indian Aces had Monfils providing unbridled energy throughout.

 

Eventually, the Manila Mavericks were helped by relentless cheering from the home crowd urging them on until it paid off on the 3rd day when they finally won their last match.  Mark Philippoussis, who subbed in for an injured Carlos Moya set the tone by winning the first set coming from behind against Patrick RafterKirsten Flipkens, the home team’s other female player was showered loudly with support when she finally stepped up to play on the 3rd day.  I didn’t think Andy Murray would have liked to lose all his matches in front of his home team so he was finally able to pull off two wins on the 3rd day.  It was the most electric on that last day and last match as the whole stadium cheered louder and louder for the home team especially as the last set, the men’s singles between Murray and Nick Kyrgios got down to the wire and the last and longest rally of the set finished off the 5-minute shoot-out with a Kyrgios backhand to the net.  It was the fitting end to 3 days of tennis fun and excitement.

 

The competition will probably continue to have its critics, but I for one was converted.  That IPTL was able to bring all these tennis superstars to my country already makes it a winner in my book.  But the overall experience just solidified that fact.  I talked to several people, hardcore fans, casual fans, people who have never watched a tennis match in their life and they all came out of the experience with nothing but positive words to say, all saying that they will definitely be back next year to watch some more.  For the casual fan, it was like watching tennis on steroids with the faster paced play.  For the non-tennis fan who was greatly entertained, it was a marvel seeing how gorgeous all of the players looked.  I asked another non-tennis fan whether she will watch tennis on TV if she chances upon it and she said that she already did the following day.  Most of these people just got complimentary tickets, but their enjoyment showed that next time, they will already be willing to pay for the experience.  And if the aim of the IPTL is to grow the fan base of the sport, in areas that are rarely or never served by the professional tours, then so far, it seems to have achieved its goal.  A day after, and everyone is suffering from IPTL hangover.

 

Will IPTL supplant the tours?  Most probably not.  It’s still an exhibition in the mind of players and fans.  Will it eventually be part of tennis’ history especially with some of its innovations as Carlos Moya says it could be?  Too hard to tell after the first leg.  I feel its success is highly dependent on the commitment it gets from the biggest superstars of tennis.  It has managed that so far, will it continue to do so in the future?  Is there a place for it in the current tennis landscape as founder Mahesh Bhupathi says it does as he summed up the Manila experience?  Why not?  We all got to see Andy Murray and Maria Sharapova play mixed doubles together to disastrous results all with smiles on their faces, the biggest cherry on top of this wonderful cake.  And that alone should make the fans demand for the continued existence of the IPTL.

 

Share

Inaugural Serena Williams Ultimate RUN South Beach to Take place on December 14

Serena Williams ultimate run

(November 13, 201) World No. 1 and 18-time major champion  Serena Williams got to watch first-hand as friend and tennis competitor Caroline Wozniacki finished the New York City Marathon. Now it’s Williams turn to run a race. She will join running enthusiasts from South Florida and around the country for the inaugural Serena Williams Ultimate RUN South Beach, taking place on Sunday, December 14th. The Quarter Marathon (6.55 miles), 5K Run/Walk and Ultimate KIDS Dash will bring together runners of all ages and abilities to support the Serena Williams Fund, which provides assistance to families affected by violent crimes and providing underprivileged youth around the world with the highest quality of education available to them. Registration for each event is now open at www.TheUltimateRun.com.

“Miami is very close to my heart — I’ve lived and trained here throughout my career — and it’s such an electric and diverse city,” said Williams. “I really hope Miami will come out to support this fun event and run with me to help youth in need, so that they’re able to thrive and live fulfilling lives.”

On Sunday, December 14th, famed Ocean Drive will be closed to traffic for the Ultimate RUN’s scenic start and finish lines. The course will take runners through Miami’s South Beach. Those scheduled to participate include U.S Olympian and American middle distance runner Shannon Rowbury, and the Canadian long-distance Olympic runner, Cam Levins American track coach and retired long-distance runner, Alberto Salazar, is expected to fire the starting gun as a tribute to kick off the new event. Caroline Wozniacki, Venus Williams, Andy Murray and other special guests are expected to attend the new event.
“Our goal is to think of what would make the ultimate run,” says Marc Wachter, the event’s executive producer. “We are thrilled to be working with Serena for the first annual Serena Williams Ultimate Run.  One of the world’s number one female athletes behind our inaugural event in Miami Beach, together with participants from the Nike Oregon Project, will make this run the Ultimate experience.”

Open to runners of all ages, registrants of the Ultimate RUN will receive a premium, Nike tech, gender-specific Ultimate RUN shirt and custom artisan Ultimate RUN finisher medal, official finisher certificate, chip timed results, recovery refreshments, post-race entertainment and an amazing RUN experience along one of the most famous beach front locations on earth. At the all-inclusive fun RUN, a medal and a Nike shirt will also be presented for the Ultimate KIDS Dash for ages 2-10, on a special secure course for the children lined with volunteers and parents who will help direct and cheer the smallest runners to the finish.

“Serena, South Beach, and running down Ocean Drive breaking a sweat for a good cause is a perfect combination,” said Michael Rose, Managing Partner of Rose Capital Advisors in Miami Beach and Board Member of the Serena Williams Fund. “We’re extremely fortunate and grateful that the community has embraced this project as strongly as all of our partners, sponsors, volunteers, family, and friends have. The race will truly be a weekend affair, leveraging all that South Beach has to offer – including an intimate welcome reception on Friday evening, an outdoor health and fitness expo open to the public on Saturday afternoon, and of course, a celebratory post-race karaoke party!”

A significant portion of proceeds from the Serena Williams Ultimate Run will go towards the Serena Williams Fund, which provides assistance to families affected by violent crimes and providing underprivileged youth around the world with the highest quality of education available to them.  For further information, visit www.theserenawilliamsfoundation.org

Registration for the first annual Serena Williams Ultimate RUN South Beach on Sunday, December 14th is now open at www.TheUltimateRun.com at facebook.com/SerenaWilliamsUltimateRunSouthBeach and via Twitter @TheUltimateRun.  Additional inquiries can be made by calling 305.538.8899.  For further information and updates, visit  www.TheUltimateRun.com

The Serena Williams Ultimate Run is sponsored by Nike, Gatorade, beats by dr. dre, Delta Airlines, MISSION Athletecare, Merchant Hub, Whole Foods Market, Douglas Elliman, Rose Capital and Ocean Drive Magazine.

Share

Serena Williams Three-Peats at WTA Finals

Singapore trophy presentation

(October 26, 2014) Serena Williams avenged a round-robin stage loss to Simona Halep and gave the Romanian a dose of her own medicine, as the American claimed her third straight WTA Finals championship on Sunday routing the fourth seed 6-3, 6-0.

Just four days ago Halep demolished Williams during the group stage 6-0, 6-2. The 33-year-old veteran turned the tables on her 23-year-old opponent on Sunday, winning 11 of the last 12 games of the match.

For Williams, it’s her fifth year-end championship, which puts her in a tie for second all-time with Steffi Graf, behind Martina’s Navratilova with eight. In winning her 64th career title, Williams is now just three behind Billie Jean King for the seventh-most of the Open Era. For the fourth time in her career Williams has won at least seven titles during a season.
“I just started training again last week because I had such a bad knee in Beijing,” said the 18-time major winner. “I can’t believe I even made it to Singapore, and now I have the Billie Jean King Trophy, so I’m just really excited.”

Halep admitted to being tense. “I was nervous before the match that I had to play this big final,” she said. “I couldn’t manage very well the situation.”

“I was a little bit nervous. I was tired a little bit and I couldn’t make the step into the court and to, you know, open the court to play more aggressive.”

“I knew that she would be more motivated during this match because we played a few days ago and I won.”

Williams played a relentless attacking game on Sunday, different from her Thursday encounter with Halep.

“I had to play more Serena‑style tennis and just do what I do best: enforce myself,” said the world No. 1 who hit 25 winners on the day. “That’s what I was trying to do.”

“I knew she will play better this match because she saw how I play, she saw what she has to do during the match,” Halep said.

“So she did really well today.”

“I gave everything today, and, you know, that was my level today,” Halep said. “Wasn’t my best day, but I’m still happy and I’m still enjoying this moment because it’s a good moment for me.”

 

“She was more motivated and more focused maybe this match, and she tried to hit the balls very strong.

“Like I said before, every day is a new day, it’s different day. So we saw today that was different day.”

The twist and turns of the situation of the group stage that let Williams qualify for the semifinals in the first place, was Halep taking a set off Ana Ivanovic in her final round-robin match. Had Halep not won a set off of the Serb, Williams would not have reached the semifinals.

“No, I have no regrets, because I did my job on court against Ivanovic,” Halep. “I tried to win the match. I couldn’t, but I never thought that I have to lose in two sets against Ivanovic.

“That was the chance. She deserves to win the title. She’s much better. So, yeah, it’s okay. I have no regrets.”

Williams said she would have done the same thing if she were in Halep’s situation.

“We play and give our all for everything,” Williams said.

“She (Halep) definitely gives her all, so I don’t think that went through her mind at all. If anything, she would’ve won three matches would’ve had a chance to go for more points, more money. It’s a much better incentive to try your best.”

For Halep, it’s been a career year for the Romanian now ranked No. 3 for 2014. She reached No. 2 in the world and was a finalist at the French Open – A big improvement from her No. 64 ranking less than two years ago.

“I improved a lot this year, this period, so I’m happy with my game,” Halep said.

“I can say that my dream is to win a Grand Slam, but I don’t know if I can next year.

“I want just to be focused for every tournament, to take very important ‑‑ every tournament to be very important for me.

“I want to improve more in my game, and then we will see what is going to happen. I want to remain in top 10 next year.”

Williams talked about her rollercoaster ride of a year in 2014.
“It’s been a really difficult year for me,” Williams admitted. “I don’t think I’ve had such an up and down year. I started out well with Brisbane; then didn’t do well in Australia; then I did well again in Miami.

“It was really up and down. I ended the year well. I had a couple injuries in the beginning of Asia, but I’m glad I came and I was able to end well. So I think that was important. How you start is how you finish, right?”

Williams took home a check for two million dollars and will have an orchid named after her for victory this week.

Share

Williams, Halep Set Up Rematch at WTA Finals

Serena Williams
By Stephanie Neppl

(October 25, 2014) SINGAPORE – Serena Williams survived, and Simona Halep cruised. The two will face off for the second time at the WTA Finals in Singapore, this time with the title on the line.

The semifinals were a complete contrast but they were consistent to the tournament for each player. Williams barely made the semifinals, needing Halep to help keep her in the tournament by winning at least a set in her match yesterday against Ana Ivanovic. Halep, on the other hand, was the first player to qualify and she won her first two matches without dropping a set, including the 6-0, 6-2 drubbing of Williams.

Here’s how the semifinals unfolded:

[1] Serena Williams (USA) vs [8] Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark)

The two close friends spent Friday night together at the Mariah Carey concert which was held at the Singapore Sports Hub. Saturday they battled out in front of an appreciative crowd for more than two hours to determine whose season would end, and who would advance to Sunday’s final.

Wozniacki was the better player for the first set, and her deep and well-placed groundstrokes kept Williams off balance as she raced to a 3-0 lead. The American, on the other hand, was erratic especially on her backhand side and Wozniacki held with ease as Williams’ return game was off. The first set took just 25 minutes, and the Dane won it 6-2.

In the second set, Williams’ service games perhaps helped her settle into the match, and she didn’t face a break point all set long. She managed to finally break Wozniacki to go up 3-2 and she got a second break up 5-3 as Wozniacki double faulted down set point to level the match at a set apiece.

The match was just 56 minutes old as the third set began, and both players’ level was strong. Williams served first, and she held her first two games without facing break point. It was Wozniacki who had to fight off the first break point serving at 1-2, but she held on as the rallies and quality of play improved. The two held their serves until the score hit 4-4. Then it was Williams, who hadn’t faced a break point since the first set, who would lose her serve to go down 5-4 as Woznaicki prepared to serve for the match, and the win against a player she had only beaten once in 10 tries.

Serving at 5-4, Williams struck hard and fast. She hit three winners to get to double break point, and she was able to break to thrill the crowd and level the set at 5-5.

Williams then had to fight off her nerves through a tough service hold. She went down break point again but Wozniacki hit a routine backhand into the net. On her second game point, Williams was able to hold and win her third straight games as the crowd went wild.

Receiving up 6-5, Williams hit three errors to give Wozniacki two game points but huge returns by the top-seed brought up a match point, which was saved by the Dane after an amazing rally. Wozniacki would hold serve, and the match would be decided by a tiebreak.

Wozniacki went up 4-1 in the tiebreak as Williams was misfiring her groundstrokes. But from then Williams won five straight points, the first off a Wozniacki double fault, to earn two more match points up 6-4. But the dramatic match ensued, as the world No. 1 could not convert either. But at 6-6, she fired her 12th ace of the match to set up a 4th match point, which she would finally convert to edge Wozniacki 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (6) in a thriller.

Williams said at 1-4 down in the third set tiebreak she thought “Well, I guess I have to go home now. You know, I told you to get up early in the tiebreak and now you’re down 1‑4. You didn’t listen.”

The American admitted said that if she did play Halep again, she would start out with low expectations. “I’m excited. My goal is to win three games. That’ll be my first goal. I’m going to go from there. Hopefully I can hold serve. That would be good. Most of all, I hope to break once. So I’m starting out with low goals. Then I’m going to go from there. She played really, really well. Even she said she played really well. I’m just going to do the best that I can do and see what happens.”

Wozniacki, who was consistently solid throughout her four WTA Finals matches, was disappointed but said it was a great match. “I played all I could today. I played my heart out. I fought until the end. You know, you can always look back and say, I could have done this and that, but at the end of the day I couldn’t. I played the best I could today. Today, Serena just got the better of me in the end.”

[6] Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland) vs [4] Simona Halep (Romania)

For all the suspense and drama the first semifinal had, the second one offered little doubt who would meet Serena in Sunday’s final.

Halep was just ‘too good’ against Radwanska, and she cruised to a quick 6-2, 6-2 win in just 67 minutes. Halep saved 1 of 2 break points she faced, while the Pole was only able to fight off 1 of the 6 she faced.

The Romanian, coming into the match on the heels of a three-set loss to Ivanovic on Friday night, cranked 26 winners against Radwanska, who only hit 4. Both had 13 unforced errors.

Radwanska said her opponent played a fantastic match, “I think she was very solid from the beginning. No mistakes. Everything coming back. Changing lines. You know, deep balls. Serving very well. I think everything was working for her today, I guess.”

Halep could only agree that she played a wonderful match: “Yeah, it was a great match for everything. Went perfect I think today. I played really well and moved really well on court. I feel very happy because I could play at this level. She’s also great player, but today everything was very well for me.”

The Romanian said Sunday’s final would be a different match than her round robin match against Williams. “Yeah, I played few days ago and it was a very good match for me. But tomorrow will be different. I am prepared for everything. I just want to enjoy the match, enjoy the final first, and then to think what I have to do on court. I know how to play, so we’ll see tomorrow if my game is going to be the same like today.”

Sunday, October 26 schedule:

Centre Court – 4pm

The Doubles Final

Centre court – not before 7pm

(1) Serena Williams vs. (4) Simona Halep

Stephanie Neppl is in Singapore covering the WTA Finals for Tennis Panorama News. She spends all her spare funds traveling to tennis tournaments and has played since her teen years. Follow her live updates on Twitter at @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal Twitter @stephintheus and her blog  http://ihaveatennisaddiction.blogspot.com.

Share

Semifinals set at WTA Finals while Serena Williams clinches year-end No. 1

 

By Stephanie Neppl

 

(October 24, 2014) SINGAPORE – Semifinal berths and the year-end WTA No. 1 ranking were on the line as the last round of WTA Finals round-robin play began on Friday.

 

Many scenarios existed to see who would be playing in Saturday’s semifinals, with just Simona Halep having already secured her spot. In the end, Caroline Wozniacki, Agnieszka Radwanska and Serena Williams would complete the semifinal line-up.

 

Here’s how the day’s matches unfolded:

[2] Maria Sharapova (Russia) vs [6] Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland)

Sharapova had to beat Radwanska in straight sets to keep her hopes alive to advance to the semifinals. The two had a messy start to the match as both hit a fair share of errors as they settled in. Sharapova broke first to go up 2-1, but couldn’t consolidate as both players struggled to find their consistency.

 

Break points were frequent, and it was Sharapova who would get a critical break at 4-4 to serve out the first set. Up 5-4, the Russian was broken after saving three break points so the set was level again at 5-5. But three winners in the next game helped Sharapova break again and she served out the set on her second try, 7-5.

 

The second set looked to be quick for the world No. 2, who raised her game and Radwanska looked resigned to the loss. Sharapova went up 5-1 and had two match points on the Pole’s serve to clinch a straight set win. From that stage, Radwanska started playing solid tennis and she broke Sharapova’s serve twice to get herself back in the match at 5-5.

 

Sharapova twice served for the match, but never reached match point on her own serve. The set eventually went to a tiebreaker, and the momentum was still on Radwanska’s side. She was able to nose ahead in the tiebreak as Sharapova errors kept her behind the whole way. Down 6-4 in the tiebreaker, the Russian double faulted to end her chances to advance to the semifinals. By dropping the set, Sharapova was eliminated from the WTA Finals, meaning Serena Williams clinched year-end #1 for the fourth time.

 

Despite letting the second set slip away, Sharapova was able to regroup and broke Radwanska twice in the third set to win the last four games for the 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-2 win to end her season with a victory.

 

Sharapova said after the match that she was happy to end the tournament with a win. “I just really wanted to win this match. I had so many chances and it was just not the way that I wanted to go out in the tournament. That was my goal no matter how physical the match or how tough it was to lose that second set was, I wanted to win it.”

 

[3] Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic) vs [8] Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark)

Wozniacki had already qualified for the semifinals, but she took on Kvitova with the chance to finish 3-0 and finish atop the White Group. Kvitova needed to win the match in order to move on the semifinals, or else Radwanska was in.

 

Kvitova got off to a solid start, breaking early for a 2-1 lead. But Wozniacki was hitting freely and much more aggressively than usual, most likely due to the fact she had already advanced to the semifinals. The Dane reeled off five straight games to take the first set, 6-2.

 

The Czech, who admitted that she was feeling “tired and sick of tennis for a moment” after her loss to Radwanska earlier in the week, showed she wasn’t going away and her huge groundstrokes helped her race out to a 2-0 lead. But it all fell apart again for Kvitova, and Wozniacki’s defense and consistency helped her get a key break at 4-3, and she served out the match for a 6-2, 6-3 win.

 

The victory meant Kvitova, known for her indoor tennis prowess, was out of the 2014 WTA Finals with a 1-2 record and Radwanska finished second in the White Group.

 

Wozniacki finished atop the White Group and said it’s been a great week so far in Singapore. “It’s been a great week. I think I have nothing to complain about. Great tennis and some good wins. It’s just been really nice. You know, I’ve been playing some really good tennis, and today I think is one of the best matches I’ve ever play.”

 

[4] Simona Halep (Romania) vs [7] Ana Ivanovic (Serbia)

The final round-robin singles match was full of intrigue, as the fate of world No. 1 Serena Williams’ standing at the tournament rested on Simona Halep. If Ivanovic managed to defeat Halep in straight sets, Williams was out and Ivanovic would be in the WTA Finals semifinals for the first time since 2007.

 

It all seemed to be going Halep’s, and Williams’, way in the first set. Halep jumped out to a 5-2, double break lead and served for the set. From that stage, she lost four straight games as Ivanovic became more aggressive and many Halep backhands, her best shot, repeatedly found the net.

 

Halep steadied the ship to hold serve down 5-6 and the two engaged in a tense tiebreak. Ivanovic took a 5-2 lead but a forehand error and double fault helped Halep level it at 5-5. The Romanian had a set point up 6-5, but hit a forehand into the net. Ivanovic then hit a backhand long up set point at 7-6 before she managed to grab another set point with a forehand winner and she sealed her first set comeback as she won the tiebreak, 9-7.

 

The second set moved along similarly to the first set, with Halep showing no signs of giving anything but her all in the match. She again led 4-1 before handing the break back while serving at 4-2. But this time, the Romanian would not relent, and she broke at 4-3 and served out the set at love.

 

With the loss of a set, Ivanovic would no longer advance to the semifinal stage, meaning Williams was in. But the Serbian fought hard in the third and broke to go up 5-3 in an effort to end her 2014 season with a win. She served out the match at love to take it 7-6 (7) 3-6 6-3.

 

Ivanovic admitted her disappointment that she did not advance to Saturday’s semifinals. “Yeah, it’s mixed emotions obviously because I feel like it was such a great match tonight, yet it’s such a low not to be able to qualify for the semifinals. Still, on a positive note I won two matches, finished the season with a victory. It’s been amazing year for me.“

 

So, the semifinals will be Williams against Wozniacki and Halep versus Radwanska. Williams leads the head to head 9-1, while Halep leads hers 4-2.

 

RESULTS – OCTOBER 24, 2014
Singles – Round Robin – Red Group
[7] Ana Ivanovic (Serbia) d [4] Simona Halep (Romania) 76(7) 36 63

Final Standings
1) Simona Halep 2-1 (.714 sets)
2) Serena Williams 2-1 (.667 sets)
3) Ana Ivanovic 2-1 (.537 sets)
4) Eugenie Bouchard 0-3

Round Robin – White Group
[2] Maria Sharapova (Russia) d [6] Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland) 75 67(4) 62
[8] Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark) d [3] Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic) 62 63

Final Standings
1) Caroline Wozniacki 3-0
2) Agnieszka Radwanska 1-2 (.479 sets)
3) Maria Sharapova 1-2 (.464 sets)
4) Petra Kvitova 1-2 (.431 sets)

Doubles – Quarterfinals
Kveta Peschke (Czech Republic) / Katarina Srebotnik (Slovenia) d [1] Sara Errani (Italy) / R Vinci (Italy) 21 ret.

Saturday’s schedule:

Centre Court – 12:00 pm Start

[2] Hsieh Su-Wei (Chinese Taipei) & Peng Shuai  (CHN) vs. Alla Kudryavtseva (Russia) & Anastasia Rodionova (AUS)

Not before 2:30 pm

(1) Serena Wiliams vs. (8) Caroline Wozniacki

 

Not before 6:00 pm

(4) Simona Halep vs (6) Agnieszka Radwanska

[3] Cara Black (Zimbabwe)/Sania Mirza (India) vs. Kveta Peschke (Czech Republic)/Katarina Srebotnik (Slovenia)

 

Stephanie Neppl is in Singapore covering the WTA Finals for Tennis Panorama News. She spends all her spare funds traveling to tennis tournaments and has played since her teen years. Follow her live updates on Twitter at @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal Twitter @stephintheus and her blog  http://ihaveatennisaddiction.blogspot.com.

Share

Serena Williams Receives Written Apology from Russia’s Tennis Chief

Serena Williams

(October 23, 2014) Serena Williams told media in Singapore at the WTA Finals on Thursday that she has received a written apology from Russian Tennis President Shamil Tarpischev.

During her post-match news conference after dismantling Eugenie Bouchard 6-1, 6-1 said: “Yes, I have received ‑‑ he has reached out to apologize to both myself and my sister.”

“It was written. No, I did not speak to him,” Williams added.

The WTA fined and suspended Tarpischev for offensive comments made during his appearance on a Russian TV show including referring to the Williams sisters as the “Williams brothers.”

The WTA fines the Russian tennis chief $25,000 and suspended from tour for a year.

 

Related articles:

Serena Williams Responds to Shamil Tarpischev Comments

Update: WTA Fines and Suspends Shamil Tarpischev for Williams Sisters Comments

Share

WTA Finals race to the semifinals heats up; Halep first through

By Stephanie Neppl

(October 23, 2014) SINGAPORE – With three round robin singles matches on tap for Thursday, it was a full-day of at action at the 2014 WTA Finals in Singapore.
[6] Agniezska Radwanska (Poland) vs [8] Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark)

Wozniacki battled her good friend Radwanska and ended on the good side of a hard-fought 7-5, 6-3 match. Radwanska struck early, going up 2-0, but the pair traded breaks back and forth in the first set, and the crowd was treated to many long rallies and crafty play, especially by Radwanska.

The Pole led 3-1, but Wozniacki was able to pull even at 3-3 and the two held serve until the Dane was able to get a break at 5-5. The quality of play got better as the set progressed with Radwanka’s ability to place the ball paired against Wozniack’s great defense. At 5-5, Wozniacki got more aggressive on her returns and was able to break and she held her own serve at 6-5 to take the first set.

In the second set, Radwanska’s groundstrokes continued to let her down, and it was Wozniacki who broke at 3-3 and won the final three games to secure a second round robin win.

“I think it was really tough match overall,” Wozniacki said after the match. “I just kept fighting for every point. There was some ridiculous shot making there at times.”

Radwanska agreed that the crowd witnessed some great tennis, but said for her it was not enough. “Well, I think of course it was couple of amazing rallies and of course couple amazing shots as well. But just not enough, I guess, in that match. I think those shots and the other shots, it all makes good match. But I think I think I just needed some more good serves as well in that match.”

[2] Maria Sharapova (Russia) vs [3] Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic)
After both losing their opening matches, Sharapova and Kvitova met with a lot on the line for each to stay in contention for the semifinals. Sharapova had won the past five matches against the Czech, who had last beaten the Russian back in the 2011 Wimbledon final.

It seemed that trend would continue as a pumped up Sharapova broke to start the match as Kvitova was missing her shots.

But in the blink of an eye, Kvitova took over the match. She reeled off five straight games and threatened to hand Sharapova a moral bagel. Down 5-2, Sharapova finally held serve but she could not contain Kvitova’s huge serving as she closed out the first set, 6-3.

In the second set, the crowd waited for Sharapova to find her way back in the match, but Kvitova hit winner after winner. Up 5-0 and serving for the match, Sharapova broke her opponent to deny a bagel set, but down 1-5 Sharapova she would face two match points. Kvitova missed her return on both points, and the Russian held on for a second game in the set. But it wasn’t enough, and Kvitova closed out the match on her second try, 6-3, 6-2.

Kvitova admitted later in her news conference that she was “tired and sick of tennis for a moment” after her loss to Radwanska earlier in the week. “So I didn’t practice today as all and I just really relaxed and clean my mind a little bit. I knew that I have a game to beat Maria. So everything what I did today was really good, and I’m glad that I beat her and I have still a chance to go in semifinal.”

Sharapova said that she didn’t feel as sharp in the match as she has against Kvitova in the past. “She served really well. Not fast, but found her spots really well,’ she said. “But I just don’t feel that I reacted as well in her bigger shots. She’s someone that likes to play aggressive and hit the ball, and very deep as well. She countered my shots extremely well and I was just never ready for the next ball. That made it quite difficult for me.”

To advance to the semifinals, Sharapova’s only hope is to win straight sets as well as Wozniacki winning in straight sets.

[1] Serena Williams (USA) vs [5] Eugenie Bouchard (Canada)

With every game counting toward Williams’ race to advance to the semifinals and try to hold onto her #1 ranking, she faced Bouchard for the first time since 2013 Cincinnati 2012, when the American battled for a three-set win in their only previous match.

Bouchard has had a standout season, but since reaching the Wimbledon final her record was a lowly 8-8 leading into her final round-robin match.

Williams was coming off her worst loss since 1998, and she put memories of that match behind her with a convincing 6-1, 6-1 win over Bouchard. The Canadian quickly went down 0-40 in her first service game but would hold. From then, Williams was far too strong and she won 11 straight games before Bouchard knew what hit her. She could save face by holding serve to get on the board in the second set, but Williams served out the match in her first try for the 58-minute victory.

The world No. 1 said she had to get over her 6-0, 6-2 loss to Halep on Wednesday in order to be ready for today’s match. “I was really disappointed in my play yesterday. I tried, but it didn’t work out for me. I don’t really recover well from losses, but I had a really long talk with Patrick. He just was, you know, telling me what I needed to do and how to get over it.”

The loss to Williams meant an end to Bouchard’s season, and she said she enjoyed the experience in Singapore despite her 0-3 record. “Yeah, it’s been fun. Definitely a unique experience compared to any other tournament, one I would love to come back it in the future. Definitely disappointed with my play this whole week, but I feel like I can do so much better. That’s a positive I can take out of it as well.”

Williams must await the result of the Simona Halep and Ana Ivanovic’s match to see whether or not she will advance to the semifinals.

But the world No. 1 said her fate actually rests on herself. “If I wanted to win and be a part of the event, I should have won my match yesterday or should have done better,” she said. “So whatever happens, happens at this time. I did the best that I could do this week. I should have thought about that sooner.”

2014 WTA Finals Scenarios

Friday is the final day of round robin play in singles, and the last first round doubles match will take place at night following singles.

ORDER OF PLAY – FRIDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2014
CENTRE COURT start 1:30 pm
[2] Maria Sharapova (Russia) vs [6] Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland)
[3] Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic) vs [8] Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark)

Not Before 7:30 pm
[4] Simona Halep (Romania) vs [7] Ana Ivanovic (Serbia)
[1] Sara Errani (Italy) / Roberta Vinci (Italy) vs Kveta Peschke (Czech Republic) / Katarina Srebotnik (Slovenia)

Stephanie Neppl is in Singapore covering the WTA Finals for Tennis Panorama News. She spends all her spare funds traveling to tennis tournaments and has played since her teen years. Follow her live updates on Twitter at @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal Twitter @stephintheus and her blog  http://ihaveatennisaddiction.blogspot.com.

Share

Halep hammers Williams at WTA Finals

Halep fh

By Stephanie Neppl

(October 22, 2014) SINGAPORE – The 2014 WTA Finals were thrown a curve ball on Wednesday afternoon when Simona Halep took on world No. 1 Serena Williams.

Halep had never beaten the four-time WTA Finals champion but on Wednesday she would not only get her first win, but she handed Williams one of the worst losses of her career.

Halep won the first eight games and wrapped up the 6-0, 6-2 victory in just 65 minutes. It was just the second time in her career that Williams had won just two games in a match. The previous was in a 6-1, 6-1 quarterfinal defeat to Joannette Kruger in Oklahoma City way back in 1998. Williams was 16 at the time.

Williams started the match with an ace but a double fault and errors led to the first break of the match. Her double fault count kept rising and she did not reach game point in any of her services game in the first set. Halep meanwhile, never faced a break point in the first set and she quickly wrapped up the bagel in 20 minutes.

In the second set, Williams got to game point in her first service game, but Halep would get a fourth straight break and hold to lead 6-0, 2-0. Williams finally got on the board in the third game, overcoming her 7th double fault to hold on her first game point on her serve.

With Halep leading 2-1, the fourth game gave hope that Williams was pulling herself back into the match. Some fantastic rallies kept the crowd entertained as Williams threatened to break back. But Halep held tough, fighting off two break points and hold to lead 3-1. The Romanian then went up a double break and held for a 6-0, 5-1 lead. Williams, renowned for her comebacks when down, had two chances to get a break back as nerves crept into Halep’s game as she tried to serve for her biggest career win. But Halep held strong, and she was rewarded with the 6-0, 6-2 win.

Williams praised her opponent after the match. “I think she played really well, to be honest. Personally I’ve never seen her play like this. Ever. But obviously she had nothing to lose and went for a lot of shots. You know, I think she just played a really, really good game.”

The world No. 1 confirmed she wasn’t not feeling 100% but said that was not a factor in her loss. “I’m definitely not 100% okay. I’m just here playing, but I’m not nowhere near 100%,” she said. “That has nothing to do with today’s match. I think Simona played really well and the best match of her career. To be quite frankly honest, I’m looking forward to our next meeting because she is making me going to go home and work hard and particularly train for her.”

Halep said the win meant a lot to her. “It means a lot, this match. On the important moments I played really well,” she said. “So after today, my confidence went higher.”

The win was Halep’s first over a top three opponent, and she acknowledged beating Williams was huge. “It’s the first time that I beat Serena. She’s No. 1. Yeah, was a dream to beat one of the sisters because they were ‑ they are ‑ very good players. For my mind it’s very important, this victory.”

Halep moved to the top of the Red Group at 2-0 while Serena fell to 1-1.

Earlier in the day session, Alla Kudryavtseva and Anastasia Rodionova upset the 4th seeds Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina, last year’s WTA Finals runners-up, 4-6, 6-2, 10-6.

ORDER OF PLAY – THURSDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2014
CENTRE COURT start 1:30 pm
[6] Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland) vs [8] Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark)
[2] Maria Sharapova (Russia) vs [3] Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic)
Not Before 7:30 pm
[1] Serena Williams (USA) vs [5] Eugenie Bouchard (Canada)
[3] Cara Black (Zimbabwe) / Sania Mirza (India) vs Raquel Kops-Jones (USA) / Abigail Spears (USA)
Tracy Austin (USA) / Martina Navratilova (USA) vs Marion Bartoli (France) / Iva Majoli (Croatia)

 

Stephanie Neppl is in Singapore covering the WTA Finals for Tennis Panorama News. She spends all her spare funds traveling to tennis tournaments and has played since her teen years. Follow her live updates on Twitter at @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal Twitter @stephintheus and her blog  http://ihaveatennisaddiction.blogspot.com.

Share