2014/04/17

Serena Williams Wins Opening Match at Sony Open

(March 20, 2014) Adorned in an outfit sporting the Miami Dolphins colors of orange and turquoise, Dolphins co-owner and No. 1 player Serena Williams fought off some rust and a game in the first set but won the last five games of the match to beat Yaroslava Shvedova 7-6 (7), 6-2 in her opening match at the Sony Open.

Williams jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the opening set, only to see her opponent take the next four games. Williams broke Shvedova while she was serving for the set at 5-4. The set ended with a tiebreak, in which Williams fell behind 3-6.  Williams rallied to save three set points and eventually win it 9-7 ending the set with a pair of aces and a backhand winner.

“It was an incredibly tough first set,” Williams said of the 69-minute first set. “I just needed to relax and yet keep up the intensity.”

“Well, she was doing a little bit of everything,” William said to media of her opponent.  “She was hitting hard; she was hitting soft; she was doing a little bit of everything.

“I was making a little more errors than what I should have been making, what I should’ve made, and that kind of threw me for a loop, as well.

“I just tried to come back and stay into the match.”

Williams was restored to her dominant self in the second set, winning the last 5 games of the set to give her the match.

Although Williams hit only 61% of  her first serves, she rocketed 14 aces past Shvedova.

Defending Sony Open champion Williams, who considers this her hometown tournament as she lives an hours away in Palm Beach Gardens, is looking to take her seventh crown in Key Biscayne.

“I obviously love playing here,” she told the fans in the audience on court after the match. “I’m just happy to have a win today.”

Williams was asked to comment on her new outfit.

“Actually, we’re playing ‑‑ Nike and I wanted to pay homage to my team that I co‑own, so it was like, we should totally do the Dolphin colors.  Just have something really fun for Miami.  You know, Dolphins are great, so just, Go Dolphins, go Fins.”

Williams was asked about what advice she’s giver her NFL team: “Well for me it’s always staying positive.  There is always ups and downs in one’s career.  It’s about overcoming those and knowing we have a great roster, we have a great team, and we can do just as well as any other team.

“We never want to get down or get negative.  Just stay positive.”

First match for me in a few weeks, so I definitely ‑‑ I was happy to get through it,” Williams said.  “I think she played really well.

“I’m always really hard on myself.  I always think I can play better.  I had a tremendous amount of unforced errors.  I missed some shots I was not missing before.  I have a lot of room for improvement, which in my mind is a good thing.”

Next opponent for Williams will be France’s Caroline Garcia.

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Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal and Bryan Brothers Among Laureus World Sports Awards Nominees

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

(February 26, 2014) The nominations for the the 2014 Laureus World Sports Awards were announced.

Among the nominees are three-time Laureus winner Serena Williams, two-time winner Rafael Nadal and the Bryan Brothers.

The full list of Nominees for the 2014 Laureus World Sports Awards is:

Laureus World Sportsman of the Year
Usain Bolt (Jamaica) Athletics – won 100m, 200m and 4 x 100m World Championship gold medals
Mo Farah (UK) Athletics – won classic 5,000m and 10,000m double in World Championships
LeBron James (US) Basketball – Miami Heat star, voted NBA MVP for fourth time in five years
Rafael Nadal (Spain) Tennis – winner of French Open, US Open and five ATP Masters event
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) Football – scored 69 goals for Real Madrid and Portugal in 2013
Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Motor Racing – won fourth straight Formula One World Championship

Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year
Nadine Angerer (Germany) Football – FIFA Women’s Player of the Year, captain of German team
Missy Franklin (US) Swimming – at 18, won a record six gold medals in World Championships
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (Jamaica) Athletics – won three sprint gold medals in World Championships
Yelena Isinbayeva (Russia) Athletics – won pole vault world title in front of home Russian crowd
Tina Maze (Slovenia) Skiing – won Overall World Cup and three other disciplines, plus Super G world title
Serena Williams (US) Tennis – won French Open and US Open, plus eight other tournaments in 2013

Laureus World Team of the Year
All Blacks (NZ) Rugby Union – first time a national team achieved a 100% record in professional era
Bayern Munich (Germany) Football – won Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup treble
Brazil Men’s Football Team – won Confederations Cup, beating World Cup holders Spain in final
Bob & Mike Bryan (US) Tennis – completed doubles ‘Golden Slam’ – four Grand Slams and Olympic gold
Miami Heat (US) Basketball – won NBA title for second straight year, beating San Antonio Spurs in final
Red Bull (Austria) Motor Racing – won fourth straight Formula One Constructors’ World Championship

Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year
Afghanistan Cricket Team – learned cricket in refugee camps, in 2013 reached first World Cup finals
Marc Márquez (Spain) Motor Cycling – youngest ever MotoGP world champion, at 20 years 266 days
Raphael Holzdeppe (Germany) Athletics – won Germany’s first World Championship pole vault gold
Nairo Quintana (Colombia) Cycling – first Tour de France rookie to finish on the podium since 1996
Justin Rose (UK) Golf – won his first Major Championship at US Open, at the age of 32
Adam Scott (Australia) Golf – first Australian winner in the 77-year history of US Masters

Laureus World Comeback of the Year
Yelena Isinbayeva (Russia) Athletics – won pole vault world title in front of home Russian crowd
Rafael Nadal (Spain) Tennis – winner of French Open, US Open and five ATP Masters event
Oracle Team USA – Sailing – 8-1 down in America’s Cup, Oracle fought back for a remarkable 9-8 victory
Tony Parker (France) Basketball – European Championship MVP after recovering from serious eye injury
Ronaldinho (Brazil) Football – at 33, led unfashionable Atlético Mineiro to victory in Copa Libertadores
Tiger Woods (US) Golf – US PGA Player of the Year after five tour victories, regained world No 1 ranking

Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability
Marie Bochet (France) Skiing – first winner of all five disciplines at a single Alpine World Championships
Marcel Hug (Switzerland) Wheelchair Racing – won five golds and a silver medal at World Championships
Tatyana McFadden (US) Wheelchair Racing – won four city marathons and six golds at World Championships
Sophie Pascoe (NZ) Swimming – won five gold medals out of five attempts at World Championships
Sarah Louise Rung (Norway) Swimming – won four gold medals in her five races in World Championships
Olga Sviderska (Ukraine) Swimming – took five individual and two relay golds in the World Championships

Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year
Jamie Bestwick (UK) BMX – only athlete in X Games history to win eight straight gold medals
Bob Burnquist (Brazil) Skateboarding – overtook Dave Mirra to win a record 25th X-Games gold medal
Mick Fanning (Australia) Surfing – clinched his third World Surfing Championship in last event of year
John John Florence (US) Surfing – scored perfect 10 for completing the Alley Oop in Bali
Maya Gabeira (Brazil) Surfing – nearly drowned after attempting to surf a 70ft wave in Portugal
Shaun White (US) Snowboarding – won sixth consecutive SuperPipe gold medal at Winter X Games

The 15th Laureus World Sports Awards, which recognise sporting achievement during the calendar year 2013, is the premier honours event on the international sporting calendar. The winners, as voted by the Laureus World Sports Academy, the ultimate sports jury, made up of 46 of the greatest sportsmen and sportswomen of all time, will be unveiled at a globally televised Awards Ceremony staged in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Wednesday, March 26.

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Venus Williams Wins Third Dubai Title

Venus with trophy

(February 22, 2014) DUBAI – No. 44 Venus Williams needed a wild card to get into Dubai Tennis Championships and made excellent use of it by winning the tournament defeating 26th ranked Alize Cornet in the final 6-3, 6-0 on Saturday. Cornet knocked off Venus Williams sister and No. 1 Serena Williams on Friday 6-4, 6-4 in her semifinal. It was Cornet’s first win over a No. 1 ranked player.

“I think Serena and I have so much respect for each other that when someone else beats one of us, we think, wow, what did they do?.” Venus said.

“So when I came on the court today, I thought, wow, because I didn’t see a lot of the match because I was kind of expecting Serena to win, so when I saw she was down, I was like, Wow.

“I was trying to get a feel for what exactly did she do to beat Serena?  Obviously I was able to see on the court today.  She’s just playing so consistently and hustling and making the plays.

“I think the difference between me and Serena today was just ‑‑ I think I put a few more balls in the court, and I think Serena set up her points to win them but couldn’t quite put the ball in.

“She hasn’t played since Australia, and I had the opportunity to play last week and play extra rounds, so that probably helped me.”

“6‑3, 6‑0 is a bit tough in an hour and 30, so I guess there was a battle on the court, but she was just better than me today,” Cornet said.  “That’s it.  Really there is nothing to say.

“She was playing more aggressive.  She was pushing me out of the court very far from the baseline, and I didn’t play as deep as yesterday, didn’t serve as well.

“I didn’t miss my final completely, but for sure I didn’t play my best tennis.  But Venus helped it a lot and she played good the whole week, so she deserve this title.”

The victory for Venus Williams marks her third title in Dubai in three appearances. She won in 2009 and 2010 and is now a perfect 15-0 at the event. “I need to play here every year,” she said on court after the match.

Williams is the first unseeded player and also the first wild card tot ake the title in the tournament’s 14-year history.

“Just to be able to be here and compete was, you know, the first thing that made me so happy, and then obviously to play well, win the title and, you know, have this wonderful streak here is, you know, definitely an accomplishment,” said the three-time Dubai winner.

“First of all, I think Alize is playing great,” said the champion.  “I think if she continues to play like that, she’s going to play deep in a lot of tournaments and improve.

“It’s great to see that, because she’s a great, I think, addition to the game.  She brings so much passion on the court, so it’s great to see her playing well.”

“It was a great week for me,” Cornet said.  “It’s always tough to finish like this, and I believed in my chances today.

“I would have loved to make like a better final, you know, with a little bit more of suspense.  And the score is really too hard to finish the week, such a good week, but I will have to take all the positive things out of this week.  I think there is a lot, so I’m still very motivated for the rest of the season.”

For 33-year-old veteran, it’s her 45th career title, her first since winning Luxembourg in 2012. It’s her first Premier title since winning Dubai in 2010. Most importantly it her biggest title since being diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome in 2011.

“I have enjoyed being here with Serena, being able to be at the same tournament,” Venus said.  “We don’t always get to do that, and that was a lot of fun.”

“I tried my best,” said Cornet.  “Really I didn’t play that bad.  She was just ‑‑ she was playing faster.  She was playing deeper.  She was taking the ball earlier than me, and she was serving better.  So, I mean, then I don’t have a lot of chances.

“But this week was for sure a great week for me.  I beat the two top 10 players, two 20 players, and it didn’t happen forever.  For sure it’s amazing.”

By virtue of her week in Dubai, Venus will move up to No. 29 in the world.

More to follow….

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Serena Williams Upset in Dubai Semis by Alize Cornet

 

Serena in press 2

Serena Williams

(February 21, 2014) DUBAI – No. 26 in the world Alize Cornet prevented an all-Williams Dubai Tennis Championships final when she stunned the world’s top player Serena Williams 6-4, 6-4 in the semifinals on Friday. Earlier in the day Venus Williams defeated stopped 8 seed Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 6-2.

Serena Williams talked about the loss:

“I’m a wee bit embarrassed,” she said with laughter.

“She played really well.  I just, you know, I didn’t play today.  I tried, though.  I just kept hitting errors.  I don’t think I have made that many errors in a match in I think at least three years, maybe four years.”

“I have been playing really, really solid for a long time.  Today just wasn’t my day.

“You know, she played a solid match.  She knew someone was going to hit balls in the stands and just didn’t get the ball in play, kind of.  I think she did that really well.

“I think I just, out of a 10, I was at like a ‑283,” Serena said. “Wow.”

AlizeCornet

Alize Cornet

“I was so excited about this match coming up to tonight, and now that I beat Serena, it’s a dream comes true,” said a stunned yet happy Cornet.  “It’s definitely the biggest win of my career.

“I did it in such a good way, such a good match.  Very, very strong and smart till the end.

“I didn’t try to be more powerful than her, because, anyway, it’s impossible.  I just tried to play with my weapon.  Wow, 6‑4, 6‑4.  I didn’t expect that definitely, and I’m really, really happy and proud of myself.”

“I haven’t felt good this whole week, to be honest, just from my first match,” Williams said.  “I felt I played good yesterday.  I had to play well.  If I’d have played like that today, I probably would have been ‑‑ I don’t know if I would have won, because I think Alize, she played really well, but I definitely think the scoreline would have been a little better.

“I started out extremely slow.  I have been actually looking at a turtle every day.  I think it’s so cute.  Maybe I was too influenced about by it.  It’s a really cute turtle in the hotel.

“I need to be able to play better than that if I want to be playing on this tour, on the professional tour.  Maybe I can go to amateurs.”

“If you don’t pretend to be confident against Serena, she just works on you,” said Cornet.  “I mean, when I won the first set I was 2‑Love up in the second, and then I felt that she wanted to put more pressure on me, to impress myself a little bit, and she started to scream louder on the shots and to hit harder.

“And at one point I looked at my coach.  I was like, She want to impress me, but it’s got going to be like that.  I’m going to put some more myself, too.

“And that’s what I did.  I broke her after.  I just didn’t let myself, you know, beaten by Serena.  From the beginning, I just tried to follow the tactic I did with my coach before.  And like a robot, just following the tactic.  That’s it.  Don’t think about anything else.”

“Now that I beat Serena, it’s a dream comes true.  It’s definitely the biggest win of my career.” This was Cornet’s first win over a current No. 1 player.

Cornet will try to become only the eighth player to beat both Williams sisters in the same tournament when she plays Venus in Saturday’s final. Venus is looking to win her 45th WTA title while Cornet wants to win her fourth.

“Before this match, I was telling my coach that she impress me the whole week, Venus,” Cornet explained.  “She’s, wow, she’s back to her top level.

“I think she feels a little bit at home here in Dubai because she won twice, and I lost against her here in 2009, so it’s going to be the revenge, and, wow, I can’t wait for it.  I don’t know what time is the final tomorrow, but I can’t wait to be there and just try to win the title.”

“I mean, not a lot of French players won here.  I think Amélie (Mauresmo) won and that’s it.  I hope to be the next one.”

Venus Williams has won all three career matches against Cornet.

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Venus Williams over Wozniacki

Venus Williams Moves into Dubai Final

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Venus Williams Moves into Dubai Final

Venus Williams over Wozniacki

(February 21, 2014) DUBAI – Wild card entry and world No. 44 Venus Williams dispatched Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 6-2 to reach the final of the Dubai Championships, her second final of 2014. She lost in the Auckland final in January to Ana Ivanovic.

“I feel like I’ve just gotten so much better since my first round to now, just feeling comfortable on the court, feeling comfortable when I’m behind, feeling comfortable when I’m in the lead,” Williams said.

“So it reminds me a lot when I first came on tour, having to learn a lot, so I feel like I’m learning lessons all over again.

The two-time former Dubai champion Williams prevented Wozniacki from playing her game.

“In the beginning I felt like she was dictating almost everything and she was making a few mistakes, so that kind of got me a couple of games,” said the Dane.

“But then, you know, I think towards the end of the first set and, you know, second set I think we had some longer rallies.

“You know, my game as well stepped up a little bit, but, you know, I think she played well and was very steady and kept her head cool.”

“I didn’t really feel like I could go out and play what I wanted to play,” Wozniacki said. “You know, once I got going, she started to play better as well.

“It was kind of uphill today, and she, you know, like I was expecting, she went in and was serving good first serves especially when she needed them.

“You know, she got the angles going, so even when I was behind the baseline, you know, she made me come in and then played it on my feet.

“Yeah.  She played a good match, and, you know, I started off very slow.  Once I got going it was too late.”

“I feel good,” said Williams.  “I have earned every win this week, and in the finals I have to earn that one no matter who I play.  It’s not like I’m going to step out there and think, you know, that I’ve got the momentum or anything.  I’ve got to create what’s going to happen on the court.  That’s what I’m going to look to do.”

Venus will play the winner of the match between her No. 1 ranked sister Serena and No. 26 Alize Cornet.

“I think it will be wonderful for us to walk in the court in the finals again like we did, you know, the first time so many years ago,” said Venus.  “I haven’t been able to hold my side of the bargain these last few years.  You know, obviously no fault of my own, but it’s great for me to be able to be able to wait in the final for her and for her to get there.  Then we will just compete for the title, you know, assuming that she wins, which obviously she’s the favorite.”

Should her sister win, it will be the first all-Williams final since the WTA Championships final in Doha in 2009.

“I’m extremely happy to be able to play her,” Venus said.  “We just haven’t been able to in so long in a final.  So for us now, like to be able to play, I think it would be awesome.”

Serena holds a 14-10 record against Venus.

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Serena Williams Claims Spot in Dubai Semis with Win Over Jelena Jankovic

 

Serena in press

(February 20, 2014) DUBAI – Serena Williams and older sister Venus are just one win away from meeting in Saturday’s final of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships as both women claimed straight set victories.

No. 1 Serena dismissed Jelena Jankovic 6-2, 6-2 in 76 minutes to reach the semifinals where she’ll face Alize Cornet. The match had some controversy toward the end of the encounter. In the final game of the match when Jankovic was serving, chair Umpire Kader Nouni told the Serb that she was serving too quickly and then too slowly taking more time than the 25 second regulation.

Jankovic commented that Williams often took a longer than regulation time to serve also.

At the end of the match spoke to each other and ended the match on good terms.

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Jankovic said in press that she was told she was serving too fast, then too slow. Saying it’s not a big deal, and that she played a “bad match.” She further gave credit to Serena saying you have respect for each other and that Serena believes in being fair.

“I told her at the end, `Look, I didn’t mean anything. I’m sorry if I played slow,’” Williams said to media. “She was like, `No, it was more like they say (I) play too fast and then too slow.’ She said she couldn’t get it right.

“I was like, `Look, are we cool because I’m cool with you?’”

Williams opened the match taking a 3-0 lead, at one stage in the match the American won 12 straight points. Williams said the match was an improvement from her opening match on Tuesday.

“It definitely felt a lot more comfortable,” she said. “There are some shots today that I missed that I would never have missed a month ago, so I’m still getting a little rust off. But it feels good. I’m still trying to make sure I keep going in the right direction.”

 

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Venus Williams

Venus Williams Reaches Dubai Semis

 

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Venus Williams Reaches Dubai Semis

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(February 20, 2014)DUBAI – Venus Williams fought off a late charge to stop Flavia Pennetta to reach the semifinals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships with a 6-3, 7-5 win on Thursday.

The two-time former champion had to serve for the match twice. Williams at 5-4 could nor close out the match on her first match point and Pennetta eventually broke serve. Pennetta gave back the service break in the next game and Williams rallied from 0-40 on her serve to finally close out the match.

“She just keeps fighting. She stays relevant,” said Williams of the veteran Penetta. “That’s what she does really well. She stays in the point. I have to give her credit for that. I think I could have maybe made a couple more shots, but it’s not always easy against someone who competes as well as her.”

Williams evaluated her own performance: “I felt good.  You know, it was an adjustment playing someone like her.  Her game is different than (Ana) Ivanovic, so it was definitely an adjustment.  I have to be more patient; the points are going to be longer.  We have to be a little bit more measured.

“I think in the beginning of the match I wasn’t really on that mode, but as the match went on, then I started to kind of self‑correct a little bit.”

With Williams in the semifinals and her sister Serena on the other side of the draw, Venus was asked about a possible all-Williams final.

“I think that would be fantastic, you know, but we both have to get there,” Venus said . “I would like both of us to get there, so we’ll see.”

The last time Venus and Serena met in a final was back in 2009 when Serena defeated Venus in Doha in the WTA Year End Championship.

Venus Williams will play eighth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki who dominated Sorana Cirstea 6-1, 6-2.

Wozniacki in press

“That was good. That was really pleasing, and I always know that Sorana can be a tricky opponent,” said Wozniacki. “It was important for me not to let her back in the game, and I felt like I served well and I put the pressure on her and played the way I wanted to play today.”

“All credit to Caroline,” Cirstea said. “She played great today. I think she played one of the best matches I have ever played against her. Very solid. Quite aggressive from the start. She should definitely deserve this win. I didn’t really get a chance to get fully into the match.”

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“Rusty” Serena Williams Opens Dubai with a Win; Ana Ivanovic Squeaks by Angelique Kerber

Serena fistpump yell

(February 18, 2014) DUBAI -Wild Card and top seed Serena Williams was forced to save set points in her 7-6 (8), 6-0 win over Ekaterina Makarova at the Dubai Tennis Championships on Tuesday.

This was Williams’ first match since she lost in the fourth round of Australian Open where she was dealing with a back injury which she has been recovering from ever since.

The world No. 1 admitted to being rusty.

“I felt a little rusty, but it was OK,” Williams said. “Body is fine. I just had to get my feet moving, but it was OK.”

Williams saved two set points against the 24th ranked Makarova in the first set tiebreak.

“Today was really difficult for me,” she continued. “I felt so rusty out there and a little frustrated – I’ve been practicing, but I was like, ‘Gosh, this isn’t what I practiced. But I was just really excited to get through that. I was really telling myself to stay positive, because I was making a lot of unforced errors that I don’t normally make, and my serve wasn’t popping the way it usually does.

“I’m happy for the win, but I’m going to have to play better if I want to do better here.”

Ivanovic in press 1

In an earlier match in the evening session Ana Ivanovic saved a match point and knocked out sixth seed Angelique Kerber 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (6).

It was difficult match for Ivanovic to close. She could not take advantage of three break point against Kerber to end the match in the 12th game of the final set. Also Ivanovic built a 5-1 lead in the tiebreak but Kerber came back to have a match point of her own at 6-5. Ivanovic win the next three points to win the contest.

“I’m just so happy to be through,” said the Serbian.

 

 

Related stories:

Caroline Wozniacki Battles Past Sabine Lisicki in Dubai; Talks Engagement Ring in Press

Simona Halep Retires with Injury in Dubai Opening Match

DUBAI DUTY FREE TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS
Dubai, UAE
February 17-February 22, 2014
$2,000,000/Premier
Hard/Outdoors

Results – Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Singles – Second Round
(1/WC) Serena Williams (USA) d. Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) 76(8) 60

Singles – First Round
(5) Jelena Jankovic (SRB) d. (Q) Maryna Zanevska (UKR) 64 63
Ana Ivanovic (SRB) d. (6) Angelique Kerber (GER) 36 63 76(6) (saved 1mp)
Alizé Cornet (FRA) d. (7) Simona Halep (ROU) 61 11 ret. (right ankle injury)
(8) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) d. Sabine Lisicki (GER) 26 63 63
Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) d. (Q) Karolina Pliskova (CZE) 61 75
(Q) Flavia Pennetta (ITA) d. Kaia Kanepi (EST) 75 64
(Q) Annika Beck (GER) d. Samantha Stosur (AUS) 16 61 64

Doubles – First Round
(1) Errani/Vinci (ITA/ITA) d. Pavlyuchenkova/Petrova (RUS/RUS) 64 64
Hlavackova/Safarova (CZE/CZE) d. (4) Black/Mirza (ZIM/IND) 76(5) 57 119 (Match TB)
Kudryavtseva/Rodionova (RUS/AUS) d. Jankovic/Kleybanova (SRB/RUS) 76(4) 62

Order Of Play – Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Centre Court (from 14.00hrs)
1. Flavia Pennetta vs. Agnieszka Radwanska
2. Ana Ivanovic vs. Venus Williams
3. Sorana Cirstea vs. Sara Errani (NB 19.00hrs)
4. Petra Kvitova vs. Carla Suárez Navarro

Court 1 (from 14.00hrs)
1. Caroline Wozniacki vs. Annika Beck
2. Lucie Safarova vs. Jelena Jankovic
3. Kirsten Flipkens vs. Alizé Cornet
4. Williams/Williams vs. Makarova/Vesnina

Court 3 (from 16.00hrs)
1. Peschke/Srebotnik vs. Pennetta/Stosur

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Venus Williams Dominates in First Round Victory in Dubai

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(February 17, 2014) DUBAI – Wild Card entry and two-time former champion Venus Williams was off to a winning start at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships besting Elena Vesnina 6-3, 6-2 hitting 10 aces along the way.

“The last couple matches I played against her, at Wimbledon she played so well and it wasn’t my day, and Cincy as well – I had some chances there but she was clearly more on her game,” Williams said after the win.

“These days I’m a little more on mine, so I was glad to get a win.”

Venus Williams dubai

“I definitely don’t take for granted any win anymore,” said Williams. “Not that I used to. But now it’s even more special, every win. My serve keeps improving pretty much every tournament. That always helps me.

“I think the more matches I’ll play, the better I will feel. You know, in moments where I’m controlling the match, the better I will feel in moments where things are close.”

The 2009 and 2010 champion’s win will set up a second round meeting with the winner of sixth seed Angelique Kerber and former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic.

DUBAI DUTY FREE TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS
Dubai, UAE
February 17-February 22, 2014
$2,000,000/Premier
Hard/Outdoors

Results – Monday, February 17, 2014
Singles – First Round
Carla Suárez Navarro (ESP) d. (WC) Nadia Petrova (RUS) 63 62
Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) d. Alisa Kleybanova (RUS) 64 67(3) 64
Sorana Cirstea (ROU) d. Roberta Vinci (ITA) 64 63
Lucie Safarova (CZE) d. Sloane Stephens (USA) 63 75
(WC) Venus Williams (USA) d. Elena Vesnina (RUS) 63 62

Doubles – First Round
Kops-Jones/Spears (USA/USA) d. Chan/Huber (TPE/USA) 63 76(4)
Groenefeld/Rosolska (GER/POL) d. Dushevina/Parra Santonja (RUS/ESP) 64 63
Raymond/Zhang (USA/CHN) d. (WC) Flipkens/Kvitova (BEL/CZE) 06 64 107 (Match TB)

Singles Qualifying – Final Round
Annika Beck (GER) d. (1) Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) 61 64
(3) Flavia Pennetta (ITA) d. (5) Yvonne Meusburger (AUT) 61 63
Karolina Pliskova (CZE) d. Camila Giorgi (ITA) 75 62
Maryna Zanevska (UKR) d. Mona Barthel (GER) 76(8) 64

Order Of Play – Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Centre Court (from 14.00hrs)
1. Alizé Cornet vs. Simona Halep
2. Caroline Wozniacki vs. Sabine Lisicki
3. Angelique Kerber vs. Ana Ivanovic (NB 19.00hrs)
4. Serena Williams vs. Ekaterina Makarova

Court 1 (from 14.00hrs)
1. Maryna Zanevska vs. Jelena Jankovic
2. Samantha Stosur vs. Annika Beck
3. Kaia Kanepi vs. Flavia Pennetta
4. Kirsten Flipkens vs. Karolina Pliskova

Court 3 (from 14.00hrs)
1. Hlavackova/Safarova vs. Black/Mirza
2. Errani/Vinci vs. Pavlyuchenkova/Petrova (NB 16.00hrs)
3. Jankovic/Kleybanova vs. Kudryavtseva/Rodionova

 

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Sloane Stephens Crashes Out in Opening Round of Dubai

sLOANE sTEPHENS dUBAI

(February 17, 2014) DUBAI – World No. 18 Sloane Stephens is now winless (0-2) in non-major events this year following a 6-3, 7-5 loss to Lucie Safarova in the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Monday. Last year Stephens also lost in the opening round of Dubai and last week, the American also fell in her first match in Doha last week.

Stephens told media that she needs to improve her results at Premier-Level events.

“I think it’s just something I need to work on, Stephens said. “I obviously need next year to try to do better here, and that’s what I need to do.”

She is 3-1 in majors this year and 0-2 in other events. Last year she was 15-4 in Majors and 24-19 on the WTA tour and Fed Cup. Stephens recently hired former Roger Federer and Pete Sampras coach Paul Annacone as her own.

“It was a tough match. She’s a great player and she played really well,” Stephens said. “I didn’t really get a good rhythm today, and she was playing some really good tennis at the end of the match.”

“Last year was a really long year,” she said. “It was tough towards the end, but I came through like a champ, and I think I did pretty well,” she said. “I think being obviously American, it’s a much bigger deal because sports is really big in the US, and either way I think the whole thing was a learning experience and it was what it was.”

Also into the second round is recent Pattaya winner Ekaterina Makarova, who overcame a challenge from Alisa Kleybanova to win 6-4, 6-7, 6-4. She’ll face No. 1 Serena Williams next.

Also in the day session in the final round of the qualifying matches, Australian Open semi-finalist and world No. 19 Eugenie Bouchard was beaten 6-1, 6-4 by Annika Beck.

Others to advance to the main draw were 2013 US Open semi-finalist Flavia Pennetta, who beat Yvonne Meusburger 6-1, 6-3, Karolina Pliskova, who defeated Camila Giorgi 7-5, 6-2, and Maryna Zanevska rebounded from losing the first five games to defeat Mona Barthel 7-6, 6-4.

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