June 28, 2017

Djokovic and Nadal Advance Easily, Lucky Loser Jabeur Takes Out No. 6 Seed Cibulkova at Roland Garros

(May 31, 2016) Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal had straightforward wins on Wednesday at the French Open both men scored 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 over their opponents Joao Sousa and Robin Haase, respectively.

Defending women’s champion Garbine Muguruza had to rally from a set and a break down to get past No. 53 Anett Kontaveit 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-2.
“I think she was playing so, so good for the first two sets,” Muguruza said. “I was just hanging in there, being aggressive and waiting for my moment.”

No. 15 seed Petra Kvitova’s Roland Garros is over. The Czech, back on tour for the first time since being attacked in her home lost to American qualifier Bethanie Mattek-Sands 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5).

Venus Williams advanced to thee third round with a straight sets win over Kurumi Nara. Williams’ sister Serena Williams, who is about six-months pregnant attended her big sister’s match. Associated Press reported that Venus may have accidentally told people that Serena is having a girl.

France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga lost a suspended match to Argentina’s Renzo Olivo, ranked No. 91 making his Paris debut 7-5, 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-4.

No. 25 Steve Johnson earned an emotional win over Borna Coric 6-2, 7-6(8), 3-6, 7-6(6). Johnson lost his father three weeks ago, he father\ Steve Johnson Sr. was a tennis coach.

“I just miss my dad, you know? I wish he was following along. I know he is, from upstairs,” a tearful Johnson said to Tennis Channel’s John Wertheim. “Just so emotional. It’s hard to describe. I just know he was looking down on me on that last point. And gave me the strength to finish it off.”

In then upset of the day, Ons Jabeur a lucky loser making her debut in the French Open Main draw upset No. 6 seed Dominika Cibulkova 6-4, 6-3. The 22-year-old Tunisian became the first Arab woman to reach the third round of a major. She is ranked 114 in the world. She is also the first lucky loser to reach the last 32 since 1996.

“I am very, very happy,” Jabeur said. “I won the Roland Garros juniors here, I have good memories and I hope to create more.”

“I played really good from the beginning of the year, and I don’t see why I should not continue doing my best.,” she told media. “I have been working very hard, and it’s time to make the work on the court and prove that I can be one of the best.”

“It was no pressure for me. Every time I play a player, like, better ranked than me, especially Top 10, there is no pressure. I like to show myself and show my dropshots.

“So it was unbelievable match for me. I think I played really good, and I made the necessary shots in this match.”

Jabeur hit 30 winners in the match and lost only two points on her first serve during the match.

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It’s Official – Serena Williams is Pregnant, Will Be Back in 2018

 

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(April 19, 2017) A spokeswoman for Serena Williams has told multiple media outlets that the 23-time major champion is pregnant, the baby is due in the Fall. Williams posted a photo of herself on Snapchat with the caption: “20 weeks.” She took down the post later in the day.

Williams who is engaged to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, was last on a tennis court in late January when she won the Australian Open. She was about two months pregnant at the time.

The spokeswoman also noted that the 35-year-old Williams will be back on the tour in 2018.

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Novak Djokovic Withdraws From Miami Open with Elbow Injury

 

 

(March 19, 2017) Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from the Miami Open with a right elbow injury.

“I have some very disappointing news to share with you regarding the Miami Open tournament,” said Djokovi in a statement. “My doctor has strongly advised against play because my elbow injury, that I keep carrying on for months, got worse in the past week. I will do everything in my power to recover and do all the necessary therapy to be able to return on court as soon as possible. Sadly, I won’t be able to defend my title in Miami this week.”

“Believe me, it is as shocking to me, as it is to you. I had incredible run in Miami, I won there my first Masters tournament and started my campaign towards the top of the world rankings. No wonder they say that in sport the biggest and most painful defeats come from injuries, and not from opponents. I am lucky that throughout my career I didn’t have many injuries, but I guess that all that I’ve been through physically in the past so many years did leave a mark on my body. I remain eternally grateful for all the love and support I receive from you. Thank you for believing in me.”

No. 1 Andy Murray withdrew from the tournament on Saturday with a similar injury.

Eight-time champion Serena Williams will be skipping the tournament due to a left knee injury.

The tournament runs from March 20 – April 2.

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Serena Williams Withdraws from the BNP Paribas Open and the Miami Open

(March 7, 2017) From the BNP Paribas Open: World No. 1 Serena Williams has withdrawn from the 2017 BNP Paribas Open due to a left knee injury.

 

A quote from Serena Williams:

 

“Sadly, I have to withdraw from the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells and the Miami Open. I have not been able to train due to my knees and am disappointed I cannot be there. I will keep moving forward and continue to be positive. I look forward to being back as soon as I can.”

 

Williams lost in last year’s Indian Wells final to Victoria Azarenka. The 35-year-old won the Australian Open in January for her 23rd major title.

 

With the withdrawal, Angelique Kerber will move back up to No. 1 in the world after the Indian Wells event.

 

 

 

Tennis Channel’s BNP Paribas Open and Miami Open Broadcast Schedules

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Serena Williams Defeats Sister Venus for Australian Open Title for Open Era Record 23rd Major

(January 28, 2017) Serena Williams has won an Open Era record 23rd major title when she defeated her older sister Venus 6-4, 6-4 to win her seventh Australian Open title on Saturday night in Melbourne.

Serena, who just passed Steffi Graf with 22 majors, is just one major behind Margaret Court for the all-time record which is 24.

The win puts Serena back at the top spot in the WTA rankings as of Monday. Venus will move up to No.11.

Serena did not drop a set in the tournament. She now holds the record for the most number Australian Open singles titles for a woman.

This is the 35-year-old Williams’ tenth major title since turning 30. This was the oldest major woman’s final in terms of combined age at 71 years, 11 months between them.

She is now 23-6 in major finals and 7-2 in major finals against her sister. Serena is now 17-11 against Venus overall.

“This was a tough one. I really would like to take this moment to congratulate Venus,” Serena Williams said during the trophy presentation. “She’s an amazing person. There’s no way I’d be at 23 without her. She’s my inspiration and the only reason I’m standing here today. Thanks for inspiring me to be the best player I can be.”

 

The match itself was not an instant classic. The match began with four straight breaks of serve/ Both women committed a total of 48 unforced errors in the 1 hour and 22-minute match.

“I feel like I had opportunities, for sure. Just missed some shots,” Venus said. But it’s not like I missed shots that I wasn’t going for. I went for those shots. It’s a matter of inches.

“So, you know, some errors here or there can mean the difference between a break of serve or a hold.”

“It’s such a great feeling to have 23,” Serena said. “It really feels great. Yeah, I’ve been chasing it for a really long time. It feels like, really long time. When it got on my radar, I knew I had an opportunity to get there, and I’m here. I’m here.

“It’s a great feeling. No better place to do it than Melbourne.”

“My first Grand Slam started here, and getting to 23 here, but playing Venus, it’s stuff that legends are made of. I couldn’t have written a better story.

“I just feel like it was the right moment. Everything kind of happened. It hasn’t quite set in yet, but it’s really good.”

“It was great to have an opportunity to play for the title,” Venus said discussing her rn to the final. “That’s exactly where I want to be standing during these Grand Slams, is on finals day, having an opportunity. That’s the highlight of all this, is to be in that moment.”

“A lot of great performances, you know. I didn’t lose a set until the semifinals. Played against a lot of players who were in form. So it’s a good thing.

“It’s a great start to the year. I’m looking forward to the rest of year. This is like tournament number two and it’s already a lot of work. I’m looking forward to tournament number three and four. It’s going to be awesome.”

For the No. 13 seed Venus this was just her second Australian Open final, the last won coming in 2003, when she lost to her sister.

“I feel motivated to continue, to continue to go out there and hit the ball the way I know I can,” Venus said about her year so far. “There’s only things I can improve on, to be honest, and to build on.

“I feel I played very well this week, pulled a lot of things out of my pocket. I got more stuff in my pocket. Get it out.”

On going after major No. 24, Serena said:”One thing I learned in the past is you have to enjoy it. That’s the beauty of winning Australia, you have a few months to relax. If you win the French, it’s like back-to-back-to-back-to-back. Australia, you have time to enjoy the moment before the next Grand Slam.”

“Well, so far I’ve been celebrating by doing non-stop press. But, you know, it’s fine. I feel good. Just to even talk about it is great. But it’s getting late. I don’t know how I’ll celebrate. I don’t know.

“I’m just still excited. Hopefully I’ll be able to sleep.”

The victory for Serena marks the 30th major title for the Williams family.

“We are just so proud,” said the winner. “We feel so fortunate to have this opportunity to be the ones that can do it, you know. Venus and I work so hard. Still to this day we work side-by-side each other at practice. We motivate each other. Like I said on the court, every time she won her match, I felt obligated to win, I’ve got to win, too.

“The motivation she gives me, it’s really second to nothing. It’s amazing.”

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An All-Williams Australian Open Final as Serena Beats Lucic-Baroni

 

(January 26, 2017) It will be the ninth all-Williams final for a major title on Saturday night. Serena Williams joined her sister Venus in the Australia Open final by easily defeating Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 6-2, 6-1 in fifty minutes to reach her eighth final in Melbourne.

“It felt really good because I felt like it was in my hands to force this Williams final,” Serena told media. “Believe it or not, I was feeling a little pressure about that, but it felt really good to get that win.”
“She’s my toughest opponent – nobody has ever beaten me as much as Venus has,” Serena Williams said about the match-up in her on-court interview. “I just feel like no matter what happens, we’ve won.”
“She’s been through a lot, I’ve been through a lot. To see her do so well it’s great. I look forward to it. A Williams is going to win this tournament.”

Serena will be attempting to make history on Saturday, trying to win her 23rd major, which would be an Open Era record. Should she win the title, she would also retake the No. 1 ranking, jumping over Angelique Kerber.

Serena holds a 16-11 record against her older sister Venus. She also leads her sister head-to-head in major finals 6-2.

“Obviously I was really proud of Venus, a total inspiration, my big sister,” Serena said. “She’s basically my world and my life. She means everything to me. I was so happy for her. For us both to be in the final is the biggest dream come true for us.”

“After everything that Venus has been through with her illness and stuff, I just can’t help but feel like it’s a win-win situation for me,” she said. “I was there for the whole time. We lived together. I know what she went through.

“It’s the one time that I really genuinely feel like no matter what happens, I can’t lose, she can’t lose. It’s going to be a great situation.”

It will be a battle of the thirty-somethings when 36-year-old Venus faces off against 35-year-old Serena.

More to follow…..

 

Related Articles:

Venus Williams Reaches Australian Open Final, Her First Major Final Since 2009

Venus Williams Reaches Australian Open Semifinals

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Thirty-Somethings Serena Williams and Mirjana Lucic-Baroni to meet in Australian Open Semifinal

 

Serena Williams

(January 25, 2017) Serena Williams reached her 34th major semifinal on Wednesday defeating No. 9 seed Johanna Konta of Great Britain 6-2, 6-3 at the Australian Open in Melbourne. The 35-year-old Williams, seeded No. 2 will play 34-year-old Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, for a place in the Australian Open final. The 79-ranked Lucic-Baroni won her quarterfinal match earlier in the day.

“I don’t know. She’s playing really well. I think it’s so important not to underestimate anyone, Williams commenting about playing Lucic-Baroni. “This has been coming for her for a long time. She’s been wanting to win Grand Slams and to do well.

“It’s so important for me to just stay focused and hopefully play well. Hopefully I’ll be able to get a win. I’m here to win. I’m here to do the best that I can.

“Yeah, so hopefully I’ll be able to do well.”

Williams talked about the last time she played Lucic-Baroni: “It was in ’98, I remember. It was on Centre Court. That’s all I remember. I remember winning. I was so excited because I was so young. She obviously was super young, too. That’s all.

“Honestly, we have totally different games now, the both of us. We both have gone through a lot. We both have survived, and here we are, which I think is a really remarkable story.”

Should Williams win the final it would be her 23rd major, the most in the Open Era. She would also reclaim the No. 1 spot.

 

 

 

 

The dream continues for Croatia’s Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. The 34-year old ranked 79th in the world knocked out fifth seed and U.S. Open finalist Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 at the Australian Open to reach her first semifinal at a major since Wimbledon in 1999.

Back in 1999, Lucic Baroni was a teenager in the Wimbledon semifinals, losing to Steffi Graf. After initial success, she had to contend with injuries and personal problem which took her out of the game.

“I was just really thankful, really thankful to God that I was able to do this today, that I was able to finish my match

“I started hurting pretty bad mid-match, especially towards the end. The fact that I was able to do it and so well at the end, I was really grateful.”

“This is what I’ve been dreaming about, this is what I’ve been training for. At 34 years old, like I said before, I have a wonderful home. I’m happily married. I would be perfectly okay being at home enjoying my family.

“But I really knew deep down in my soul that I have these results in me. To now be here and actually live these moments, it’s incredible.

“On the other side of the draw, 36-year-old Venus Williams will play fellow American, 25-year-old Coco Vandeweghe ranked No. 35 in the world.”

“This time, it’s incredibly special, especially since it’s been so long since the last time I’ve been in semifinals. And the struggle has been so much bigger, and nobody in this world thought I could ever be here again, beside my closest family, my coach, and my brothers, my sisters, my husband, my mom. Beside my little circle, I don’t think anybody believed that I could do it. And it’s really fun.

“It’s fun to prove everybody wrong, and it’s fun to enjoy this for myself and live these incredible moments. It’s more special this time, for sure.”

“Serena is our greatest champion, for sure, the greatest tennis player that ever played the game. So it’s going to be incredibly tough. She is going to history. I’m sure she’s going to be motivated to play well.

“And I’m just going to do my thing like I’ve done before ever other match. I’m going to recover and try to rest. I’m going to go out there with my heart and do the best that I can tomorrow.”

Serena Williams has a 2-0 record against Lucic-Baroni.

On the other side of the draw, 36-year-old Venus Williams will play fellow American, 25-year-old Coco Vandeweghe ranked No. 35 in the world.

In men’s action, No. 9 seed Rafael Nadal and No. 15 seed Grogor Dimitrov advanced to the semifinals. Nadal defeated third seed Milos Raonic 6-4, 7-6, 6-4, while Dimitrov stopped No. 11 seed David Goffin 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.

Nadal has a 7-1 record against Dimitrov.

 

More to follow….

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Serena Williams Moves into Australian Open Quarterfinals

 

Serena Williams

 

(January 23, 2017) Serena Williams overcame her greatest challenge so far at the Australian Open advancing to the quarterfinals on Monday with 7-5, 6-4 over Barbora Strycova.

There were seven breaks of serve in the first set and the No. 2 seed had 23 unforced errors. Williams needed 8 set points in the first set to finally close it out.

Williams was broken serving for the match, but immediately broke back to close it.

“I feel like it was really good for me to win on probably not my best day, which is always good, because sometimes you rely on one shot and if it goes off, and then, like, what happens now?,” Williams said

“It was really good for me to almost lose that so I know my other game is going pretty good, too.”
“She’s hard to read, she’s scrappy, gets a lot of balls back,” she said of her Czech opponent. “She definitely plays a different game than the other three players I played before.

“It was definitely — it gave me a different look.”

Williams will be playing No. 9 seed Johanna Konta of Great Britain for a place in the quarterfinals. Konta defeated Ekaterina Makarova 6-1, 6-4 in her fourth round match.

“I have watched her game a lot,” Williams commenting on her next opponent. “She’s been doing really, really well, and she hasn’t lost yet this year, I don’t think.”

“Well, she’s been playing really well. She has a very attacking game. I know her game pretty well. I look forward to it.

“Like I said on the court, I have absolutely nothing to lose in this tournament. Everything here is a bonus for me. Obviously I’m here to win. Hopefully I can play better, I can only go better.”

 

Johanna Konta

“She’s one of the few players still playing I watched growing up,” Konta said of Serena Williams after the match. “It’s an incredible honor and I can’t wait to share the court with her.”

“I just hope we play a great match and that we bring a good level and so the crowd will enjoy it and will get into it.”

 

“I believe in my own ability,” Konta said. “I believe in the good things that I bring to the court, and I believe in my ability to fight till the very end.

“Now, there’s that and then there’s also an opponent out there, and this one’s going to be Serena Williams. I think it’s about playing, me going out there and doing what I want to do against her, and it will be about just staying focused on that. And if that brings me good things on that day, and if that puts me in a position to come through, then that’s great.

“But I’ve got to focus on the work and not think of whether I can or cannot beat her. Yeah, I just need to stay on the work.”

Thirty-four year-old Mirjana Lucic-Baroni reached her first major quarterfinal since 1999 Wimbledon when she beat American qualifier Jennifer Brady 6-4, 6-2.

“It’s incredible now, said the veteran. “I mean, back then (1999) was kind of expected of me and it was normal. I won a lot as a junior. Then I won a lot as soon as I started playing pro. It was kind of normal. It was normal to win tournaments, normal to win big matches and go far. I mean, it was incredible, of course, but it was more normal.

“But now it’s been so long, it’s extra fun, it’s extra special, for sure.”

Lucic-Baroni will play the winner of the Karolina Pliskova – Daria Gavrilova.

“Pliskova I played a few times but always have super tough matches,” she said. “Obviously playing great tennis right now, probably the best tennis of her career. Doing amazing.

“Same for Gavrilova. We never played each other. I don’t think we have even ever practiced together.

“Yeah, right now I’m just going to relax, watch the match a little bit, see how they’re playing, what’s going on, worry about it tomorrow.”

Lucic-Baroni will face US Open finalist Karolina Pliskova in the quarterfinals. The fifth seed beat Daria Gavrilova 6-3, 6-3.

Asked about her match performance, the Czech said: “Not best. But it’s a win, so it counts. But for sure we all know I can play better.

“But it was enough. It was strange match, I would say, even from Dasha. I think she didn’t also play really well today. The conditions were definitely different compared to the other days, which was much warmer, more humidity, it was faster. Even with the roof closed, was everything like little bit different, I felt.

“Even I didn’t feel my game that good, I still think was like solid somehow. A few serves, I served well a few times, but not as the last match.”

On the men’s side of the draw, No. 9 seed 2009 champion Rafael Nadal pushed aside No. 8 seed Gael Monfils 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 to reach the final eight. Nadal closed the match by winning the last four games.

Nadal will take on Milos Raonic, the third seed who defeated 13th seed Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6 (6), 3-6, 6-4, 6-1. The Canadian came back from a 1-5 deficit in the first set tiebreak to win the first set.

“Most of the match, it was quite inconsistent I think from both of us,” said Raonic who’s been nursing the flu this fortnight. “I was sort of there on the brink in the end of the third set, then turned it around. Made it really count, I think. After I held off those two breakpoints, I was able to reel off seven games or something along those lines. I was fortunate to get that point because it definitely could have been much longer.”

“I was very fortunate to get through today,” Raonic said. “There were moments where it wasn’t looking so good.”

No. 11 seed David Goffin is in the Australian Open quarterfinals for the first time. The Belgian defeated eighth seed Dominic Thiem 5-7, 7-6(4), 6-2, 6-2.

“I feel tired, but feeling so happy. It was a really good match. Not easy. I started the match really well. Was not easy to control the ball because the first two sets it was really sunny and the ball, it was bouncing really high, so it was not easy to control the ball.

“But, yeah, I’m feeling so happy that I found my way to find a solution in the second. I serve really well. Then I played two really good sets the third and the fourth.

“I’m really happy. It was a big fight, so I’m feeling really good.”

Goffin will play Grigor Dimitrov in the final eight.

“Of course, the ranking, it doesn’t matter the ranking they have,” said Goffin.

“Dimitrov, he won everything. He started the year really well. He won in Brisbane, a really strong tournament, Brisbane ATP 250. He was really solid this week.

“It’s going to be interesting to see the match now. I will prepare my match like always, like I did this week.”

Grigor Dimitrov

Grigor Dimitrov conquered No. 2 seeds Novak Djokovic’s conqueror – dismissing wildcard Denis Istomin 2-6, 7-6 (2), 6-2, 6-1. Istomin beat the six-time champion in the second round.

“It’s going to be a tough match, for sure, without a doubt,” said Dimtrov. “David is an excellent player. In a way I know what to expect from him. We’ve practiced against each other a few times this off-season. And he’s a very dangerous player.

“I just need to be ready mentally and physically for the battle. Honestly, there’s not much else you can say about that.”

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Serena Williams Moves Into the Fourth Round of Australian Open; Nadal Survives Five-Set Test

Serena Williams

 

(January 20, 2017) No. 2 seed Serena Williams cruised past U.S. countrywoman Nicole Gibbs 6-1, 6-3 to reach the fourth-round of the Australian Open on Saturday in Melbourne.

The 22-time major champion, who is seeking her 7th Australian Open title needed only  63 minutes to advance to her sixth straight round of 16 in Melbourne.

She’ll take on 16th seed Barbora Strycova who defeated No. 21 Caroline Garcia 6-2, 7-5.

“I have seen her play a lot,” Williams said. “She’s always playing. Venus has played her a few times. I saw her play in Sydney. She’s super fit. She has a good game. She’s very aggressive, so that would be nice to play.

“Again, I don’t have anything to prove in this tournament here. Just, you know, doing the best I can.

“Obviously I’m here for one reason. But at the end of the day, this is all bonus for me and I look forward to playing her. I’m ready for her.”

“She’s human, and she is beatable,” Strycova said of Williams. “This is a Grand Slam, and we are talking that she already won, but I don’t like these talks.

“But if she wins, I will try my best. And I will have to work hard and play my best tennis to beat Serena, because she is amazing player. She know how to play these matches.”

2009 Australian Open winner No. 9 seed Rafael Nadal won a five-set, four-hour plus slug fest against 19-year-old Alexander Zverev 4-6, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-2.

“I enjoyed a lot this great battle,” Nadal said. “I was losing the last couple of times in the fifth set and I said to myself, today’s the day.”

Asked on court about how he came back to win, Nadal said: “Well, fighting – and running a lot. I think you know, everybody knows how good Alexander is – he’s the future of our sport and the present, too.”

Nadal had lost 8 of his last 9 five-set matches in which he was down 2 sets to 1.

 

Before this Australian Open, Jennifer Brady had never made the made draw of a major, this year the American made her first main draw be going through qualifying and is in the fourth round in Melbourne.

Brady upset 14th seed Elena Vesnina 7-6 (4), 6-2. Brady survived five match points to win against Britain’s Heather Watson in the second round.

“It feels amazing,” Brady said in her news conference. “I mean, you know, coming here, being in the qualifying, you know, I didn’t expect to, you know, make it all the way until second week.

“One of my goals, actually, was, you know, in the next couple years to be playing in the second week of a Grand Slam. I sat down and had that discussion with my coaches and, you know, the rest of my team — when was it? A couple months ago.”

Mirjana Lucic-Baroni won 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 win over Maria Sakkari. Nineteen years ago Lucic-Baroni won her last match in Melbourne as a teenager. The 34-year-old broke a record for the longest period between match wins at a major with the win on Saturday.

“It’s been so long, and my career has been so long and stop and go and all that stuff,” Lucic-Baroni said. “But I just take it, every win, it really is a big deal for me. It is like winning a tournament. I celebrate it.

“I don’t take losses well. I have gotten better over the years, but I really want to take my time and enjoy and celebrate my wins, and especially my big wins.

“And today it was really difficult. I’m really proud of myself. I enjoyed that I found the way to win.”

2014 finalist and sixth seed Dominka Cibulkova pushed 30th seed Ekaterina Makarova to a third set after rallying from a set and 0-4 down in the second set but lost 6-2, 6-7(3), 6-3.

“An amazing fight. I got, to be honest, a bit tight at 4-0 in the second set,” Makarova said after the match. “I want to enjoy my win today. It’s my first over Dominika, and she’s a great player.”

“I never beat Dominika before. But I lost two times in three sets, and I knew that it would be tough match, tough battle. And she fight until the end.

“Even I was winning 6-2, 4-Love, then maybe two games a little bit — I got tight, yeah. I really wanted to win the match. But after that, she play amazing tennis.

“It was tough in the end of the second set, and all third set, I think it was such a great tennis and fighting tennis. And I’m so happy that I could stay with all my focus and with my aggressive game.”

Makarova will play Johanna Konta match next.

Ninth seed Johanna Konta dismissed former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki 6-1, 6-3 to advance. She hasn’t lost a set this tournament.

“Every time we play, we have a battle,” Kota said of Makarova. “I think last year was 8-6 in the third. Actually we played out on Margaret Court. I remember that was a high-level match from both of us. That was really a great match to be a part of.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge, the battle again. She had a great match against Dominika. Dominika is not an easy player to beat, and she was able to do that. She’s playing obviously great tennis.

“I think she really enjoys playing here. She always seems to do well on these courts. I’m looking forward to it. We’ll deal with whatever challenges come up the next day.”

On the men’s side of the draw, No. 11 David Goffin won 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 win over No. 20 Ivo Karlovic. Goffin will play Dominic Thiem in the round of 16. The 8th seeded Austrian beat Benoit Paire 6-1, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.

“I had a really good start, obviously,” Thiem said. “I mean, he was not really there in the beginning. He was giving me the set almost, and then he changed his game a little bit. He was playing much better. I didn’t know the right answers straightaway.

“Yeah, it was set 2 until set 4 was really close and tight match with a lot of breaks. Yeah, could be easily a fifth, but I’m happy to be through in four.”

Denis Istomin followed his dramatic upset win over six-time and defending champion Novak Djokovic winning 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2over Pablo Carreno Busta.

More to follow…..

 

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Six-Time Champions Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams Begin Quests for Seven Title with Wins

Serena Williams

(January 17, 2017) No. 2 seeds Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic took their first steps in their quest for a seventh Australian Open title on Tuesday, each winning in straight sets.

 

Djokovic beat Fernando Verdasco in the first round of Melbourne 6-1, 7-6, 6-2. Verdasco almost beat the Serb in Doha earlier this month. He had five match points and could not close the  match. Djokovic came back to win the match and the tournament beating No. 1 Andy Murray in the final.

 

“I’m very pleased with the first round, considering I had one of the toughest first-round draws, definitely considering his form, how well he played in Doha,” Djokovic said. Just overall I’m feeling good about my performance.

 

“It was about 10 days ago, the match that we played. So, of course, you still have traces of, I guess, that match, emotions and everything that has happened.

“I use it in a way to just analyze and to get myself prepared for what’s coming up, to just be able to do things better than I’ve done that day in Doha. Even though I won the match, I thought I hadn’t played as well as I did tonight. Starting off a match as I did out of my blocks was obviously very satisfying to experience.

Serena Williams had to hold off a late surge by her first round opponent former Top Ten player Belinda Bencic, winning 6-4, 6-3. The 22-time major champion is now 65-1 in the first rounds of majors.

“I think it was pretty good,” Williams said after the match. “I mean, she’s a really good player. So I think I was able to start out well.

“I just wasn’t as aggressive as I was during those games. You know, she started playing better.

“I made a few errors on some key points, but for the most part, I still was going for everything and I was able to close it out.”

I feel like she’s definitely been having a lot more power. Obviously she beat me in Canada the last time we played, but I really don’t remember much about that match. I do remember — I just felt like she was doing really well.

 

The recently engaged Williams came into her news conference wearing a shirt which said “Equality.” Williams is engaged to Williams to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

Williams said: “with today being Martin Luther King Day, it’s important to spread the message of equality, which is something he talked about a lot and he tried to spread a lot, is equality and rights for everyone.

“With that, Nike and all the Nike athletes really want to be a part of this movement, especially, again, being that it’s Martin Luther King Day. And we really just want to speak up about things that we believe in and talk about equality.”

 

Rafael Nadal who won the Australian Open in 2009, back from a wrist injury beat Florian Mayer 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 to reach the second round. Nadal lost in the first round last year to countryman Fernando Verdasco.

Nadal: “I think I played solid match, no? It was great to be back on the big stadium. I feel the support of the people, love the people. That is something that is very special for me. Just happy to see the court like this and the people supporting me. So just can say thanks.

“I am happy the way I am playing. I had good weeks of practice. Never easy the first round. Is always little bit more nerves at the beginning. I didn’t play against an easy opponent. The way that he plays is not a conventional game. You know, he change a lot of the rhythm of the point, you know, changing with a slice, then he hit a winner. Then he play little bit slower ball. Is not easy to read his game, no?

“So just am happy the way that I played. I played good all the key points. That’s very important for me.”

 

In the match of the day, 37-year-old veteran Ivo Karlovic won a five-set marathon lasting five-hours and 15 minutes beating Horacio Zeballos of Argentina 6-7 (6), 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 22-20.  The match  set a record for most number of games (84) at the Australian Open in matches with tiebreaks. The Croatian  set a record for the tournament hitting 75 aces.

“It was real difficult match,” Karlovic said. It was also difficult mentally because I was down 2-0. I had to also fight against him and against my own head, you know. So it was definitely really difficult.”

“This is what I will, after my career, remember. If it was easy match or I lost easy, I wouldn’t remember. But this one definitely I will remember forever.”

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