2014/10/21

Williams and Halep victorious on Day 1 at the WTA Finals

wtafinals

By Stephanie Neppl

(October 20, 2014) SINGAPORE – With the top eight WTA players in the world taking center stage in Singapore at the WTA Finals, there’s no such thing as an easy match. But the tournament certainly started off with a bang as top seed and two-time defending champion Serena Williams took on Ana Ivanovic Monday night.

The debut match of the tournament was greeted by a boisterous, enthusiastic crowd. Following an opening ceremony that featured WTA Finals ambassador Li Na serving the ceremonial first serve of the event (donning high heels no less), the crowd roared as Williams and Ivanovic took to the court.

The Serbian, back in the WTA Finals for the first time since 2008, dealt Williams her first grand-slam blow of 2014 at the Australian Open with a 4th round win. Since then, the two have played three more times, with the American coming out on top but two of the three battles went deep into third sets before Williams prevailed.

Ivanovic has had one of her best seasons on tour this year, and her return to the Top 10 was accompanied by four titles and 56 total wins, the best on tour.

Heading into the match, Williams boasted a 15-match winning streak at this event. With concerns about her left knee hanging overhead, the world No. 1 faced a pair of break points in her opening service game, but saved both with aces. After a tough hold to start, Williams settled in and quickly took a 4-1 lead as Ivanovic struggled with her serve.

But after holding for 2-4, Ivanovic broke Williams at love, and then leveled the match at 4-4. An energetic crowd watched as the Serbian had a break point that would give her a chance to serve for the first set, but Williams held on. Serving to stay in the set, Ivanovic threw in two double faults, including one down set point, and Williams broke for a 6-4 lead.

Ivanovic immediately broke the Williams serve in the second set, partially due to two double faults by Williams, but she was broken straight back. Each player then held serve until 5-4, when Ivanovic served to stay in the match. Just as in the first set, Ivanovic could not withstand the pressure and she was broken to give Williams the 6-4, 6-4 win and her 16th straight WTA Finals match victory.

Ivanovic was plagued by double faults all night, and she tossed in seven during the match and said later she felt she was rushing her serve. “She was putting a lot of pressure on my serve,” Ivanovic said. “She served really well today I thought and created more pressure on my service game. I didn’t feel my rhythm, so I was trying to make more first serves.”

Williams’ serve, on the flip side, was firing. She hit 12 aces overall, giving her 430 for the season, the most of any player on the WTA Tour. “I was pleased with my serve,” Williams said after the match. “Ana is a very aggressive returner, and I went really hard at my second serve.”

The world No. 1 played without her left knee strapped, and she said it felt much better. “Compared to what it was in Beijing, it feels so much better,” Williams said. “I’m getting better, which is great.”

The win helps Williams’ chance of wrapping up the WTA year-end No. 1 spot, and now Sharapova will need to reach the final with a 2-1 record or win the title to have a chance to take away the top spot.

In the second match, Simona Halep won the battle of the WTA Finals newcomers over Genie Bouchard, with a tidy 6-2, 6-3 win. Halep raced out to a 4-0 lead in the first set and even had a point for a 5-0, triple break lead before Bouchard held to get on the board at 1-4. After clinching the first set 6-2, Halep broke early in the second and held on to wrap up the 6-2, 6-3 victory. Bouchard hit 30 errors and 5 double faults in the match.

Tuesday’s schedule features Maria Sharapova versus Caroline Wozniacki, followed by Petra Kvitova against Agnieszka Radwanska.

ORDER OF PLAY – October 21, 2014

Singapore Indoor Stadium – Start 5:30 pm

Rising Stars Final

Rising Stars Final – Monica Puig (Puerto Rico) vs Zheng SaiSai (China)

Not before 7:30 pm

(2) Maria Sharapova (Russia) vs (8) Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark)

(3) Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic) vs (6) Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland)

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.

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Notes and Quotes: The WTA Top 8 Meet the Press in Singapore

Elite 8

Photo taken from the twitter feed of Maria Sharapova

 

(October 19, 2014) The elite 8 of women’s tennis met the media on Sunday in advance of the WTA Finals which begin on Monday in Singapore. Here are a few notable quotables.

 

Serena Williams responding to Shamil Tarpischev’s comments:

“I think the WTA did a great job of taking initiative and taking immediate action to his comments. I thought they were very insensitive and extremely sexist as well as racist at the same time. I thought they were in a way bullying.

“I’ve done the best that I can do, and that’s all I can say. So I just wasn’t very happy with his comments. I think a lot of people weren’t happy as well.

“But the WTA and the USTA did a wonderful job of making sure that ‑‑ in this day of age, 2014 for someone with his power, it’s really unacceptable to make such bullying remarks.”

 

Maria Sharapova was also asked about Tarpishev’s comments.

“I think they were very disrespectful and uncalled for, and I’m glad that many people have stood up, including the WTA. It was very inappropriate, especially in his position and all the responsibilities that he has not just in sport, but being part of the Olympic committee. It was just really irresponsible on his side.”

 

How important is the year‑end No. 1?

SERENA WILLIAMS: “I definitely would be here if I already had it locked up. It’s obviously super important for me. I love being No. 1; I love being the best.

“But at this at the same time, I’m really glad that I was able to get a slam this year, which was really annoying for me that I wasn’t able to capture one.

That was something that was super, super, super important, especially for the goals that I was trying to reach.”

 

 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: “Yeah, my opinion about the No. 1 hasn’t changed very much. I always feel that ranking is also not just based on your results but based on other people’s results and accomplishments.

“That’s why I’ve always experienced the joy of Grand Slam wins so much more, because the spur of the moment. There is actually a point that you have to win in order to get it; whereas the rankings will depend on other people’s performances during the year, at certain tournaments.

“Is it an incredible accomplishment? Absolutely. It would be amazing to achieve that. I haven’t done that in my career, finishing year‑end No. 1, but I have been in that spot before and been No. 2 before and gotten to No. 1.

If I do perform well, then my chances are better than if I don’t perform well.

And the pic of the night…:) pic.twitter.com/x9t3ajMTb1

— Maria Sharapova (@MariaSharapova) October 18, 2014

 

 

A picture is worth a thousand words. Maria Sharapova was asked about why she tweeted the behind the scenes photo from the draw ceremony.

“Just because it’s like a thousand words in one picture. It’s incredible. Can’t wait to write a book. (Laughter.) Those are the moments where I’m like, Oh, my goodness. I just wrote a whole chapter in one evening.

“Yeah, looked like a lot of fun, huh? Love those things.”

 

Petra Kvitova was asked about if it feels different to be a Wimbledon winner the second time around.

“It is different. I think that you can’t really know what to expect from that. Just the time show you what you have to do and change in your life probably.

“I mean, I didn’t want to change myself, but of course the things around me was different, so I need to handle it and try to do best what I can.

“The pressure was there of course on the court, off the court as well. I thought that probably I need to win every match and every tournament I’m playing after that, so it’s not really possible.

“Yeah, this time it’s much more easier for me, if I can say that. I know what I can expect and I know a little bit how to deal with that. It’s not really like the first time, so…

“I’m more relaxed and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

Agnieszka Radwanska – Queen of the “Hot Shot.” The World No. was asked about her favorite shot that she hit.

“Well, of course it wasn’t that tricky as last year. Well, I have still few matches, so maybe I will do it here.

“I think I really liked that shot from Montreal from the semifinal. The overhead backhand. Maybe someone remember that.

“I think that was my favorite one, especially because it was a really big moment.

 

Ana Ivanovic- embracing Twitter and Istagram. The 2008 French Open winner and former world No. 1 was asked if she has embraced stardom and if it was due to social media and if it has impacted her on court.

That’s why I started Twitter and Instagram actually. Because I ‑‑ like I spoke just now, before I really felt like I changed also in this sense because I started to feel more comfortable with myself. I matured. It helped me to be okay with myself and who I am as a person and to embrace everything that comes with the job that I do.

“For me, I really struggled to be in the spotlight. It was really strange when I won French Open, when I was No. 1 in the world. It took me some time to accept this and to be okay.

“Now I actually enjoy it. That’s why I think it shows on and off the court I’m much more relaxed because I’m much more content with myself.”

 

What Serena has taught Eugenie Bouchard?

“I’ve learned many things. I think one thing that sticks out is that when it’s not going well, you can seeing her really try to calm herself down. She does her little hand thing, and that really symbolizes in my head she’s really trying to stay calm.

“Even someone as good as her has tough moments, and you can see her struggle with emotions a bit on the court. But she can always kind of collect herself and put it in the past and move forward.

“So I always imagine that, and I’m like, You know what? Serena can stay calm, I can stay calm.

 

Caroline Wozniacki – Not looking at the rankings. In a topsy turvy last couple of years for the two-time year-end No. 1, the Dane talks about the rankings.

“I never really looked at the rankings, but I definitely totally stopped when I went down to 18. I’m like, This is depressing. I don’t want to be down here.

“At the end of day, I just told myself, Doesn’t matter if you’re No. 1 or No. 18. At the end of the day, you have to compete with the same players. A lot of girls play so well now so it’s never easy. I just thought if I play well, the ranking will come back up soon.

“I started playing well, I started finding my form, and then the ranking just came up really quickly.”

 

The recently retired Li Na was asked about having second thoughts about calling it quits:

“Of course I’m not going to come back to tennis. I’m already 32; beginning of the year I already 33. I think I have to take care of my family right now, because last 32 years I was try hard as I can on tennis court.

“Now, you know, tennis is part of the life, so now I have to take care my family.”

Tennis Panorama News is in Singapore this week covering the WTA Finals. Follow on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.

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Serena Williams Responds to Shamil Tarpischev Comments

 

(October 19, 2014) In her pre-tournament news conference at the WTA Finals in Singapore, Serena Williams responded to comments by Shamil Tarpischev, the head of the Russian Tennis Federation, who referred to Serena Williams and her sister Venus as the “Williams brothers.”

“I think the WTA did a great job of taking initiative and taking immediate action to his comments,” Williams said. “I thought they were very insensitive and extremely sexist as well as racist at the same time. I thought they were in a way bullying.

“I’ve done the best that I can do, and that’s all I can say. So I just wasn’t very happy with his comments. I think a lot of people weren’t happy as well.

“But the WTA and the USTA did a wonderful job of making sure that ‑‑ in this day of age, 2014 for someone with his power, it’s really unacceptable to make such bullying remarks.”

 

Maria Sharapova was also asked about Tarpischev’s comments.

“I think they were very disrespectful and uncalled for, and I’m glad that many people have stood up, including the WTA,” said the Russian, world No. 2. “It was very inappropriate, especially in his position and all the responsibilities that he has not just in sport, but being part of the Olympic committee. It was just really irresponsible on his side.”

 

On Friday, the WTA Tour levied a $25,000 dollar fine and a year suspension. They also called for Tarpischev to be removed from his post as Chairman of the Kremlin Cup for a year.

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

The comments were made on a late night Russian TV talk show.

The 33-year-old world No. 1 Williams begins her quest to “three-peat” at the WTA Finals on Monday when she begins round-robin competition in the Red Group against Ana Ivanovic.

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

 

 

(October 17, 2014) Before this week’s Kremlin Cup in Moscow, Russian Tennis Federation President Shamil Tarpischev during the taping of a Russian late-night television show called Evening Urgant, called Venus and Serena Williams “brothers.“

The WTA has come down on Tarpischev fining him the maximum allowed under the WTA tour rules, $25,000 and suspending him from tour for a year for his comments about Serena and Venus Williams.

The WTA Tour wants Tarpischev to be stripped from his position as chairman of the Kremlin Cup tournament for one year.

Here are the full statements from WTA Chairman and CEO Stacey Allaster and US Tennis Association President, Chairman and CEO Dave Haggerty.

 

 

Media preview

 

USTA response to recent comments by Shamil Tarpischev regarding the Williams sisters

“As the President of the USTA and a member of the Board of Directors of the International Tennis Federation, I call on Shamil Tarpischev to issue a formal apology to Venus and Serena Williams. As the President of the Russian Tennis Federation and a member of the International Olympic Committee, Mr. Tarpischev is expected to conduct himself with the highest degree of integrity and sportsmanship. Unfortunately, his comments do not embody either of these traits and in fact were reprehensible.”

— Dave Haggerty, President, Chairman and CEO, USTA

 

October 18, 2014 Update: An official statement from the Russian Tennis Federation and Tarpischev was released on Sunday.

The Associated Press reported on the statement, here are a few excerpts:

Tarpischev: Williams comments meant as jokes

Asked whether he regretted his comments, Tarpischev told The Associated Press at the Kremlin Cup that the program on which he spoke was “a humorous show,” adding: “I don’t answer stupid questions.”

When asked about his ban, Tarpischev said: “I can’t comment. I don’t understand it.”

In a statement released later by the Russian Tennis Federation, Tarpischev denied any “malicious intent” and said his quotes had been taken out of context.

“I didn’t want to offend any athlete with my words,” he said. “I regret that this joke … has garnered so much attention. I don’t think this incident deserves so much fuss.”

The Williams sisters are “outstanding athletes” who “personify strength and perseverance,” he added.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told the ITAR-Tass agency that he regretted that Tarpischev had made the comments and that his suspension was “an unpleasant fact,” but suggested his sanction should be reduced.

“It’s probably worth trying to get the punishment softened,” Mutko said.

 

 

Courtesy of the WTA

Courtesy of the WTA

 

 

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Serena Williams Pulls Out of China Open with Left Knee Injury, Puts Singapore Participation in Doubt

Serena Williams

(October 3, 2014) BEIJING, CHINA - Serena Williams has pulled out of her quarterfinal match against Sam Stosur at the China Open Friday, with a left knee injury.

 

Williams said she started to feel the pain in her knee this week and almost didn’t take the court Thursday, in her match against Lucie Safarova.  She had her left knee taped but eventually won in three sets, 6-1, 1-6, 6-2.  “Well, it throbs just sitting, standing,” according to Williams.  “I felt it mostly serving because I’m landing on my left knee.  That was really killer for me.”  She feels she probably made it worse playing on but is still to have her knee checked.

 

Williams now plans to go to Europe to see her doctor and have all the tests done there.  Asked whether her participation at the season-ending BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore is in doubt, Serena replied, “I can’t answer that.  If I feel this way for Singapore, I don’t think it’s smart for me to play.  Other than that, I’m just going to see how it goes.”

Abigail Hinto and Natalie Ho are in Beijing, China covering the China Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow their twitter updates on @TennisNewsTPN.

Photos by Natalie Ho.

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Li Na’s Retirement Ceremony in Around the Grounds Beijing Photo Gallery

(September 30, 2014) BEIJING – Photos by Natalie Ho from around the grounds to the main interview room on Tuesday of the China Open including Li Na’s retirement ceremony.

Abigail Hinto and Natalie Ho are in Beijing, China covering the China Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow their twitter updates on @TennisNewsTPN.

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Serena Williams Escapes A Bagel Set to Win Opening Round in Beijing

Serena Williams in press

(September 29, 2014) No. 1 Serena Williams escaped a bagel set against her by Spanish qualifier Silvia Soler-Espinosa when she trailed 0-5 in the first set but then reeled off 13 of the next 15 games to win her first round match at the China Open on Monday 7-5, 6-2.

The holder of 18 major titles lost her serve three times in the first 15 minutes of the match to trail 5-0.

“I just didn’t want to lose ‑‑ I didn’t want to lose 6‑Love,” Williams said. “I just started fighting. I was like, Just let me at least try to break here.”

The last player to dish out 6-0 set against the 33-year-old was another Spaniard, Anabel Medina Garrigues, in Madrid last year. Williams won that match 6-3, 0-6, 7-5.

Williams who was forced to retire last week in Wuhan against Alize Cornet due to dizziness, said that she’s better this week.

“I felt good today,” Williams said. “I definitely feel like I was over it.

“This week I’ve been okay. I wasn’t sure if I was going to play or not. You know, I just started hitting a couple days ago, taking it day by day. Finally I decided I’m here, I may as well see what happens. Here I am.”

 

CHINA OPEN 2014 – BEIJING
USD 5,427,105
27 SEP – 5 OCT 2014

RESULTS – SEPTEMBER 29, 2014
Singles – First Round
[1] S Williams (USA) d [Q] S Soler-Espinosa (ESP) 75 62
[9] A Ivanovic (SRB) d [Q] B Bencic (SUI) 62 61
A Cornet (FRA) d [10] J Jankovic (SRB) 75 36 64
[13] L Safarova (CZE) d C Giorgi (ITA) 76(3) 64
[14] F Pennetta (ITA) d C McHale (USA) 76(3) 64
[Q] T Pironkova (BUL) d [WC] M Kirilenko (RUS) 64 61
[Q] M Barthel (GER) d [Q] B Mattek-Sands (USA) 46 61 64
L Davis (USA) d [Q] Y Xu (CHN) 63 63
S Peng (CHN) d [WC] K Zhang (CHN) 64 61
C Garcia (FRA) d S Zhang (CHN) 61 64

Doubles – Second Round
[2] C Black (ZIM) / S Mirza (IND) d C Dellacqua (AUS) / L Raymond (USA) w/o (Dellacqua: lower leg injury)

Doubles – First Round
[7] G Muguruza (ESP) / C Suárez Navarro (ESP) d C McHale (USA) / C Scheepers (RSA) 62 62
[Alt] M Barthel (GER) / M Minella (LUX) d [WC] B Mattek-Sands (USA) / S Zheng (CHN) 76(7) 63
[WC] S Halep (ROU) / I Olaru (ROU) d O Kalashnikova (GEO) / K Koukalova (CZE) 64 76(4)

ORDER OF PLAY – TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2014
NATIONAL TENNIS STADIUM start 12:30 pm
WTA – E Svitolina (UKR) vs [4] M Sharapova (RUS)

Not Before 2:30 pm
ATP – [1] N Djokovic (SRB) vs G Garcia-Lopez (ESP)
ATP – R Gasquet (FRA) vs [2] R Nadal (ESP)

Not Before 7:45 pm
WTA – [1] S Williams (USA) vs [Q] T Pironkova (BUL)

Not Before 9:00 pm
ATP – [7] E Gulbis (LAT) vs F Fognini (ITA)

LOTUS COURT start 12:30
ATP – [WC] F Lopez (ESP) vs [3] T Berdych (CZE)

Not Before 2:30 pm
WTA – [WC] L Zhu (CHN) vs [2] S Halep (ROU)
WTA – C Garcia (FRA) vs [16] V Williams (USA)

Not Before 6:30 pm
ATP – J Janowicz (POL) vs [6] [WC] A Murray (GBR)

MOON COURT start 12:30
WTA – R Vinci (ITA) vs [5] A Radwanska (POL)
WTA – C Chuang (TPE) / O Govortsova (BLR) vs [5] A Hlavackova (CZE) / S Peng (CHN)
WTA – [8] E Bouchard (CAN) vs S Lisicki (GER)
WTA – R Oprandi (SUI) vs [9] A Ivanovic (SRB)

BRAD DREWETT COURT start 2:00 pm
ATP – [8] J Isner (USA) vs S Giraldo (COL)
ATP – T Robredo (ESP) vs A Seppi (ITA)
ATP – [Q] M Klizan (SVK) vs L Mayer (ARG)

COURT 3 start 12:30
WTA – [15] A Petkovic (GER) vs M Keys (USA)
WTA – [7] A Kerber (GER) vs Z Diyas (KAZ)
WTA – [14] F Pennetta (ITA) vs C Suárez Navarro (ESP)
WTA – K Mladenovic (FRA) / A Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) vs Y Xu (CHN) / J Zheng (CHN)

COURT 4 start 12:30
WTA – [3] K Peschke (CZE) / K Srebotnik (SLO) vs J Gajdosova (AUS) / A Tomljanovic (CRO)
WTA – S Kuznetsova (RUS) vs K Nara (JPN)
ATP-After suitable rest – F Lopez (ESP) / M Mirnyi (BLR) vs L Kubot (POL) / R Lindstedt (SWE)
ATP – J Cabal (COL) / R Farah (COL) vs [2] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA)

COURT 7 start 12:30
WTA – [12] E Makarova (RUS) vs [Q] P Hercog (SLO)
ATP – [Q] J Brunstrom (SWE) / N Monroe (USA) vs M Cilic (CRO) / S Gonzalez (MEX)
ATP – J Benneteau (FRA) vs P Andujar (ESP)
ATP – [Q] M Kukushkin (KAZ) vs P Cuevas (URU)

COURT 8 start 12:30
ATP – I Karlovic (CRO) vs [Q] P Gojowczyk (GER)

Not Before 2:00 pm
ATP – [3] D Marrero (ESP) / F Verdasco (ESP) vs J Rojer (NED) / H Tecau (ROU)
WTA – [Q] M Barthel (GER) vs [13] L Safarova (CZE)

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Serena Williams Three-Peats at US Open for 18th Grand Slam Title

 

(September 7, 2014) Serena Williams won her third straight US Open, sixth overall for her 18th major title by defeating tenth seed Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 6-3 in 75 minutes on Sunday afternoon.

“It feels great,” Williams said. “I never thought I would have won this one six times, because I won Australian five times and Wimbledon five times. I think I only won the Open like three times; now it jumped to six.”

When she’s on her game it’s not fun to play her,” said the 24-year-old Dane . “You know, she’s so strong. She has a good serve and she puts pressure on you straightaway. You know, today I went out there and I was a little nervous. I had a game plan in mind, but it was kind of difficult at the start. I tried to push her back, but that really didn’t work for me. She really just stepped in and she was playing aggressive. She was playing better than me today.”

Williams won the tournament without losing a set.

Williams is now tied with Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova at fourth on the all-time major titles list.

“Number 18. I have been trying to reach it for so long, since last year.” Williams said. “Well, since the beginning of the year. I didn’t really think would I get there. I just felt so good.”

“It means a lot to me. You know, I just could never have imagined that I would be mentioned with Chris Evert or with Martina Navratilova, because I was just a kid with a dream and a racquet. Living in Compton, you know, this never happened before. You know, I just never could have imagined that it could have ended — not ended. I’m just beginning. Well, I’m not beginning, but I could have gotten this far, you know. So it was just — I think it was — and then it was eluding me for three tournaments, I guess. But, still that’s a lot for me. I was like, you know, really excited to get it.”

Turning 33 in 19 days, Williams is the second-oldest player to win a Grand Slam title in the Open Era after 33-year-old 1990 Wimbledon champion Navratilova.

Williams, who did not win any majors this year coming into the US Open she had no expectations.

“My goal was just to get past the third round, maybe the fourth round, because it was just really difficult for me in the majors, said the 33-year-old. “My goal was just to win some matches.”

She has now also equaled Evert’s 6 US Open titles won. Williams leads all active players in tournament wins with 63.

Williams and Wozniacki are good friends off the court and the Dane talked about their relationship.

“When you’re out there — we’re both competitors and we both want to win, so we’re both going to do anything possible to win the match. You know, after the match we’re friends again. You know, it’s tennis. It’s a game. But off the court we’re still — we still care equally as much about each other. It doesn’t really change.”

“It’s definitely not easy,” Williams said, “but I think we both wanted to win this. We both wanted to do the best that we could. And like I say, I’ve play against (sister) Venus, so I think that helped me a lot to be able to — if I can play against her, I can really handle anything at this point.”

“Think her results and her career says it all: 18 Grand Slam titles,” Wozniacki said. “You don’t get that unless you’re exceptional in what you do. You know, she is one of the greatest of all time. You know, to have 18 Grand Slam titles and still be the person she is is really something very rare. You know, I admire her both on and off the court. I definitely think when Serena is on her game there’s not much we can do. So, you know, I think that’s why she has so many titles that she has.”

The No. 1 player earned a record $4 million dollars for the win, $3 million for the title, plus a $1 million bonus for having won the US Open Series Bonus Challenge.

Asked what she plans to do with her prize money, Williams said: “Well, I have a really good uncle that I love a lot. I always say this. His name is Uncle Sam. I think I’m going to give him a lot of it.”

 

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Peng Retires in Match; Wozinacki and Williams Move into US Open Women’s Final

 

(September 5, 2014) China’s Shuai Peng, appearing to have cramps clutched her right knee and limped her way over to the back wall of the court in tears while receiving serve from 10th seed Caroline Wozniacki who was up 7-6(1), 4-3, 30-40.

At the wall, a trainer, a tournament official, a security guard and a ballperson ran to Peng’s side to help her. After about a ten minute period, which included Peng being taken off court for evaluation and being treated for heat illness, she resumed play. Points later she collapsed to the ground and retired from the match, advancing Wozniacki to her second major final.

Peng was taken off the court in a wheelchair.

In her news conference hours later, Peng said she felt fine.

“I think it was the physical because today is really humid and hot,” said the 28-year-old, ranked 39th. “And then like my body is not like from like — maybe I got from I parents when I’m born. It’s not like the strong, my physical like everything. So also from like what I does in the practice and just the lot of fitness and then try to improve with everything.”

“I said, `No, no, no. I don’t want to give up. I want to try one more time,'” said Peng, when she  had to retire. “I knew I’m not going to stay maybe too long, but I just want to try, you know. I just wanted to challenge her one more time.”

“It was really hard to watch for me whenever I saw her collapse on the court,” the 10th seed Wozniacki said. “You know, tennis is great, but the health is more important. You know, to see her struggling out there, I just wanted to make sure she was okay. I got the word that she’s okay now and just getting cooled down, so that’s great to hear. I’m in the finals, which is obviously great. It’s been five years for me since my last one here, so I’m extremely happy to be back there.”

The 24-year-old Dane lost to Kim Clijsters in the final of the US Open in 2009.

The other semifinal had very little drama as No. 1 Serena Williams ran away with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Ekaterina Makarova. For Williams this will be her third straight US Open final. She’s looking to three-peat and win her sixth US Open crown on Sunday.

 

“I’m just really excited to be in the final,” the 32-year-old said. In the beginning of the week I definitely wasn’t sure I would make it this long. Definitely wasn’t sure I’d be here. So I’m just elated, to be honest, to have made it this far.”

“I think I played pretty well today. You know, I was able to change up my game and just keep moving forward and just keep doing what I could do today.”

Williams evaluated her match-up with Wozniacki: I” definitely expect another close match. She really knows my game well and knows how to play. She’s so consistent. I think that’s one of the things that makes her really tough. So I just have to be ready for that and, again, just stay calm and just be able to relax and be happy. You know, the beginning — the past six months I would never thought I’d be here. I think it’s just staying calm and happy.”

Williams is seeking her 18th major on Sunday which would tie her on the all-time list with Martina Navratilova and Christ Evert.

 

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After a Slow Start, Serena Williams Soars in US Open Semifinals

 

(September 3, 2014) Two-time defending champion Serena Williams has her serve broken twice opening against 11 seed Flavia Pennetta but then won 12 out of the next 14 games to win 6-3, 6-2 to move into the US Open semifinal.

“She was playing really well and she was playing, you know, very aggressive,” Williams said. “So I had to just step up my level of game, as well.”

“I really had to step up my game. That’s why I was down Love-3. She came out really strong and really hard. It was a very, very good game for her.”

“I had confidence from the beginning,” Pennetta said. “I get in the court and try to do what I have to do to bring the match home, but she was really good today. I think we play really good tennis tonight. I mean, really strong tennis in everything. Today I push so much and she come in with the best tennis, I think.”

The win gives the No. 1 player her 19th straight win at the US Open. For the 32-year-old American, it’s the first time she’s reached the semifinals of a Grand Slam in 2014.

Williams is trying to become the first woman player to “three-peat” at the US Open since Chris Evert won four in a row from 1975-78. Should Williams win the title, she would pull even with Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova in total major singles titles at 18.

Williams will play Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova, a the 17th seed in her first major semifinal who advanced to her first Grand Slam semifinal by beating two-time US Open finalist Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 6-2.

“Makarova moves well,” Williams said. “She doesn’t care who she plays, she gives 100%. Those types of players are often difficult to play because it makes them better. Like I say, she moves well. She has that serve that can hit — that can go out wide or you never know where it’s going to go. She’s has a great backhand and she’s improved her forehand. It’s going to be interesting for me to do the best that I can, because, you know, she has a lot of momentum going into this match as well.”

“She’s beaten me before,” Williams said. “I am obviously going to go in there and just try to do the best I can.”

The other women’s semifinal will feature No. 10 seed Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark against unseeded Peng Shuai of China.
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