2015/05/29

Serena Williams, Djokovic, Suarez Navarro and Isner Advance in Miami

315Serenafh-001

(April 2, 2015) Serena Williams will attempt to win her eighth Miami Open title on Saturday. The 19-time major champion won a two-hour-and seven minute semifinal thriller on Thursday night over third seed Simona Halep 6-2, 4-6, 7-5. Williams will face 12th seed Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain the title.

“I made so many errors and I was like `Serena, just come to the net at this point, because that’s the only thing that was working for me,'” Williams said. “I’m just really happy to get through that. It was actually a really fun match and I was able to come out and play here tonight.”

“I just tried to make some shots and I tried to go for some big shots,” Williams continued. “I thought, I’m just going to go for winners. Even though I’m missing most of them, I’m still going to go for them.”

“I just made more errors than I did in my last match, which I thought was impossible. I’m just not at my best level right now and it’s a little frustrating.

“I’m not serving well. I am serving at 40%. Yeah, so it hasn’t been my best of times. But, yeah, so that’s just the only frustrating part.

“And I’m a perfectionist, so if I don’t get it right I just want to keep trying.”

 

Simona Halep

Simona Halep

Halep said: “I was close. I saw that I can win against her. I can play like until the end against her. I was a bit tired in the end, but it’s normal. I have so many matches played already.

“It’s okay. She was better than me. She is better than me because she’s No. 1 in the world and she’s Serena. I have just to take the positive things from this tournament, this match, and just go ahead.”

Williams’ victory means that her time atop the rankings has reached 116 weeks which surpasses Chris Evert’s 113-week run for third-longest in WTA history.

Suarez Navarro 2182015-001

Suarez Navarro advanced to the final after beating Andrea Petkovic 6-3, 6-3 in an earlier match. Her victory in the semifinal assured her of reaching the Top Ten for the first time in her career.

“I feel so happy,” said Suarez Navarro. “It’s so important for me. I was practicing and I was working during all this year with my team to a moment like this.”

Williams is 4-0 against the Spaniard. “Playing Carla,” said Williams, “I think it’ll be good for me. She’s playing a little bit like Simona, so I will be ready for that. Have to be ready. If I want to win, I have to step it up a notch”

Williams is 4-0 all-time against Suarez Navarro, who’s assured of reaching the Top 10 in the world rankings win or lose.

Williams’ countryman, No. 22 seed John Isner became the first U.S. man to reach the semifinals in Miami since Mardy Fish in 2011, upsetting fourth-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan 6-4, 6-3.

Isner interviewed

“I played extremely well today,” Isner said.”I needed to play well in order to beat a player like Kei and that’s what I did. From start to finish, I felt like I was aggressive. I was playing all the right shots and things just went my way.”

“I can’t ask for better conditions out there,” Isner continued. “I absolutely just can’t.

“You know, with the balls, the court, the balls bouncing high, it’s hot, it’s not that humid so it’s not taking a lot out of me. It’s perfect conditions ore me.

“I just played well. I mean, I’ve been serving well really for a while now, and I did that again today.

“So I was taking care of my serve. I was taking my chances on his serve, and the ball was finding the right spots for me.”

“Serve, I didn’t have any chance,” said Nishikori.

“Also, his forehand, also backhand, he hit some winners from back of the baseline. I think he close his eyes and hitting so many winners. Couldn’t really stop him today.

“So I don’t think I really play bad. Maybe I could do little better everything, but I think he played well today.”

 

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

Next for Isner will be No. 1 Novak Djokovic who defeated David Ferrer 7-5, 7-5 on the Spaniard’s 33rd birthday.

“I expected it to be a very physical match as it always is with David,” Djokovic said. “He’s one of the greatest competitors out there.”

“Every game is different, and I think tonight, my tactic, it was good,” Ferrer said. “My performance was good, playing aggressive with my forehand. But I think it’s difficult beat Nole when I am playing with him in the night because the ball is bigger when we are ending the set. And he has more power than me.

“Anyway, for beat Nole, I know I have to play perfect in important moments, play aggressive. And maybe tonight, the first set in important moments I didn’t play aggressive, no, with my forehand.”

Djokovic commented on playing Isner next:

“It’s going to be quite different match from tonight’s match. John is probably the best server we have in the game currently. At 6’10” he can hit any angle he wants with that serve.

“He won against Dimitrov, Raonic, and Nishikori in the last three matches, and that deserves a lot of respect. He obviously feels very confident playing here. He played great against Nishikori today.

“I think he improved his baseline game. Most of the players, when the play him, obviously he highly relies on his serve, but yet again, he does put a lot of balls back in play in his return games. He likes to run around his backhand and hit the forehand inside out. That’s his favorite shot.

“So I kind of know what to expect. He has his own patterns, as everybody else. I’m going to try to analyze his game, remember what I’ve done right in Indian Wells couple weeks ago, and try to obviously win.

“Hopefully we play during the night so the conditions will be a bit slower, which is going to maybe help me to get few more serves back in play, even though I know it’s going to be very close match.”

 

I’ll have nothing to lose,” Isner said. “I run into him a lot in Masters events, especially in the U.S. I think this would be our fourth encounter or something like that, playing at a Masters event in the States. Maybe fifth. I don’t know.

“But playing him, it’s always a challenge. He’s the greatest player in the world right now hands down. I played well against him last week in Indian Wells and he beat me in a tight two‑set match.

“I’m going to have to bring that level and some if I do play against him. I believe I can do that. Think I exhibited that today. He’s got a tough match against one of the best competitors or sport has.”

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Serena Williams Wins 700th Match; Will Face Simona Halep in Miami Open Semis

(April 1, 2015) Serena Williams overcame some inconsistent play to earn her 700th career win in defeating Sabine Lisicki 7-6 (4), 1-6, 6-3 to earn a spot the semifinals of the Miami Open on Wednesday.

Her 700th win puts the American in a very select club which has only eight members.

“I didn’t know I had 700 wins,” noted the 19-time major champion.

“So now I’m like I just want to keep going, doing the best that I can. Just staying positive and winning as much as I can.”

“I grew up playing tennis. I think my destiny was to play tennis,” Williams said. “I saw a picture where I was in a stroller on the tennis court.”

The seven-time Miami Open champion has now won 16 straight matches in Key Biscayne.

Williams made 51 unforced errors on the day, had some problems with the sun and served well below her usual efforts.

“I know today wasn’t my best day,” Williams said. “I just told myself, I’m not serving the way I normally serve and hitting the way I normally would hit, so at this point all I can do is just fight and try to give 200% instead of 100%.

“At the start of the third set it was definitely a little bit of a natural reaction. Obviously I don’t want to lose, or at least I want to try to do the best I can. She had a lot of momentum going into the third set after winning the second set, so I just wanted to stay strong, and basically hold my serve.”

 

Williams will battle No. 3 Simona Halep for a place in the final. The Romanian defeated American Sloane Stephens 6-1, 7-5.

“I look forward to it because I didn’t get to play her last time,” said Williams. “I was really disappointed to not be able to play and just not even be close to 100%.

“So, you know, I look forward to it this time. I’m just happy to be in the semis and still be alive somehow.”

Simona Halep

Simona Halep

“It will be a very nice match,” Halep said after he win. “I have to try everything. She is No. 1 in the world. She’s the best player. I have nothing to lose.”

“I have just to play aggressive like I did today at the beginning the match. I think this is the most important thing to have to the chance against Serena.

“So I just want recover my body until tomorrow and to be ready it hit the balls.”

No. 9 Andrea Petkovic will face No. 12 Carla Suarez Navarro in the other semifinal on Thursday.

Andy Murray fistpump

In men’s action, two-time Miami champion world No. 4 Andy Murray advanced to the men’s semifinals by rallying past unseeded youngster Dominic Thiem 3-6, 6-4, 6-1. Murray will play No. 8 Tomas Berdych next.

“At the beginning of the match I didn’t return well, especially returning his first serve,” said the Scot. That put me in sort of a defensive position a lot when he was serving. I ended up doing quite a lot of running there.

“Returned the second serve well, but everything he made a first serve I was returning short and he was dictating all of the points.

“I thought on my own serve was doing fine. I just played one bad game, and my return game let me down a bit in the first set.

“Then, again, the second set I went up and I was creating quite a lot of opportunities, which was good, but just not quite finding the right shot.

“I think in the third set the difference was really my returning. Returned his first serve extremely well. I put him on the back foot. When I was returning the first serve well I was able to dictate points when he was hitting his first serve, and on his second, and then on my first serve as well.

“So when you’re sort of able to control 75% of the points, makes a huge, huge difference. That’s the most pleasing part for me.”

It was a career week for the 21-year-old Thiem who reached his first Masters 1000 quarterfinal.

“Before this week I would have given a lot for the quarterfinals, but now of course in the first moment I’m a little bit disappointed, especially I won the first set,” said the Austrian. “I played a good match.

“But, yeah, I will leave Miami positive for sure and with a good feeling for the clay court season.”

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Venus and Serena Williams Reach Miami Quarters

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

(March 30, 2015) Venus Williams kept her record perfect against No. 4 seed Caroline Wozniacki on Monday at the Miami Open defeating the Dane 6-3, 7-6(1).

Venus, a three-time Miami winner joined her sister seven-time winner Serena in the quarterfinals. Serena bested two-time major champ Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2, 6-3.

Venus and Serena could meet in the final of the tournament.

Venus did not return to Indian Wells as her sister did two weeks ago but spoke about her sister’s return.

“It was wonderful to see,” Venus said. “I definitely watched every moment, and it was great to see her and my family there. Next year will be a big year for us being an Olympic year.

“I can’t exactly say what my schedule will be, but it was wonderful to see her reception.”

“I have heard so much about how much the tournament has just improved in general in terms of the fans and the players.

“So it will be something to see for me.”

“She’s playing really well,” Serena said of her sister’s play. “She’s playing really aggressive. I have always said what Venus has gone through has really motivated me.

“I think a lot of the things happened to help me become a better player in the past few years. You know, that’s another thing. I was really motivated by her and her spirit and her fight.

“I thought that I was doing really well, that I could ‑‑ I thought since she was doing really well, I could, as well.”

Another American reaching the quarterfinals is Sloane Stephens who stopped 18-year-old Belinda Bencic 6-4, 7-6 (5). Other women reaching the final eight include Carla Suarez-Navarro, Sabine Lisicki, Karolina Pliskova and Andrea Petkovic.

Four-time champion and No. 1 Novak Djokovic beat qualifier Steve Darcis 6-0, 7-5 to reach the final 16 where he will meet Alexandr Dolgopolov.

“I saw a couple of matches he played here, and he’s feeling good,” Djokovic said of his next opponent. He likes this surface. Generally likes a bit slower court with a higher bounce.

“Very quick dynamic motion on the serve and can serve very big for somebody of his height. And moves around very well around the court.

“So I know his game pretty well. I know what to expect. Hopefully I’ll be able to start as well as I did in the first two matches, but then end it in a bit different way. Keep the concentration going, you know, all the way through.”

Also advancing were No. 4 Kei Nishikori, No. 5 Milos Raonic while No. 9 Grigor Dimitrov fell to John Isner in straight sets.

More to follow.

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Serena Williams’ Return Highlights Mylan WTT’s 40th Season Schedule

wtt 40th season
NEW YORK, N.Y. (March 30, 2015) – Mylan World TeamTennis announced the schedule for the 2015 season, which is highlighted by the return of world No. 1 Serena Williams to WTT action for the first time since 2011. This summer, Mylan WTT becomes only the fifth major professional team sports league in the U.S. to reach the 40th season milestone when the season kicks off on July 12.
League officials released the 52-match schedule for the three-week season of Mylan World TeamTennis. The regular season runs July 12-29, with conference championships scheduled for Thursday, July 30, and concludes with the Mylan WTT Finals, on Sunday, August 2 on the home court of the Eastern Conference Champion.
Williams will take the court on July 21 in Washington D.C. for the defending Mylan WTT champion Washington Kastles after a road match in Philadelphia on July 20. The Kastles’ bid to become the first team in league history to win five consecutive titles begins on July 12 on the road in Boston. The Kastles’ lineup also includes returning marquee players Martina Hingis and Venus Williams and American Sam Querrey. Venus Williams is scheduled to make her home appearance in the nation’s capital on July 14.
After finishing at the bottom of the standings in 2014, the Boston Lobsters return with the addition of world No. 7 Eugenie Bouchard, who joins the team July 27 in Boston, July 28 in Philadelphia and July 29 in Washington.
The top-ranked doubles team in the world, Bob and Mike Bryan, will help the Sacramento-based California Dream make their mark in the team’s inaugural season. The Bryans are set for action on July 23 at home followed by road visits on July 25 in Boston and July 26 in Philadelphia.
Madison Keys, ranked No. 18 on the WTA Tour, will join the San Diego Aviators on July 27 and 28 at the team’s new home venue, the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, Calif.
John Isner, the top-ranked American who was picked up by the Springfield Lasers in a trade with Boston last month, suits up for a home match at the Cooper Tennis Complex in Springfield on July 25. The Lasers are celebrating their 20th season in Mylan WTT this July.
Andy Roddick returns to his hometown Austin Aces for a match on July 16 at the Aces’ new venue. The team will play their seven home matches in the heart of Austin at Gregory Gymnasium at The University of Texas.
For the full schedule and links to ticket information, visit www.WTT.com/schedule.
MYLAN WORLD TEAMTENNIS 2015 SCHEDULE (subject to change)
Sunday, July 12
Washington @ Boston
Philadelphia @ Springfield
California @ San Diego
Monday, July 13 
Austin @ Boston
Philadelphia @ San Diego
Springfield @ California
Tuesday, July 14
Austin @ Washington  (Venus Williams – WAS)
Boston @ Springfield
Philadelphia @ California
Wednesday, July 15
San Diego @ Boston
Washington @ Springfield
Thursday, July 16
Boston @ Philadelphia
San Diego @ Washington
California @ Austin  (Andy Roddick – AUS)
Friday, July 17
Washington @ Philadelphia
San Diego @ Springfield
Austin @ California
Saturday, July 18
Philadelphia @ Washington
Springfield @ Austin
Boston @ California
Sunday, July 19 
Springfield @ Philadelphia
California @ Austin
Boston @ San Diego
Monday, July 20
Washington @ Philadelphia  (Serena Williams – WAS)
Austin @ San Diego
Tuesday, July 21
Boston   @ Washington     (Serena Williams – WAS)
Springfield @ California
Wednesday, July 22      
Philadelphia @ Boston
Austin @ Springfield
California @ San Diego
Thursday, July 23       
Washington @ Boston  (Martina Hingis – WAS)
Austin @ Philadelphia
San Diego @ California   (Bob & Mike Bryan – CAL)
Friday, July 24
Philadelphia @ Springfield
Washington @ Austin
Saturday, July 25       
California @ Boston  (Bob & Mike Bryan – CAL)
San Diego @ Springfield (John Isner – SPR)
Sunday, July 26 
Springfield @ Washington  (Martina Hingis – WAS)
California @ Philadelphia  (Bob & Mike Bryan – CAL)
San Diego @ Austin
Monday, July 27
Philadelphia @ Boston (Eugenie Bouchard – BOS)
California @ Washington  (Martina Hingis – WAS)
Austin   @ San Diego  (Madison Keys – SAN)
Tuesday, July 28
Boston   @ Philadelphia   (Eugenie Bouchard – BOS)
Washington @ Austin
Springfield @ San Diego  (Madison Keys – SAN)
Wednesday, July 29     
Boston   @ Washington     (Eugenie Bouchard – BOS)
Springfield @ Austin
San Diego @ California
Thursday, July 30       Eastern #2 @ Eastern #1 – Mylan WTT Eastern Conference Championship
Thursday, July 30       Western #2 @ Western #1 – Mylan WTT Western Conference Championship
Sunday, August 2        Mylan WTT Finals – Western Conference Champion @ EASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPION – 11am ET start
Teams/Venues/Websites
AUSTIN ACES – Gregory Gymnasium at The University of Texas, Austin, Texas // www.austinacestennis.com
BOSTON LOBSTERS – Lobsters Stadium at the Manchester Athletic Club, Manchester-By-The-Sea, Mass. // www.bostonlobsters.net
CALIFORNIA DREAM – Dream Stadium at Sunrise Mall in the Sunrise MarketPlace, Citrus Heights, Calif. // www.californiadreamtennis.com
PHILADELPHIA FREEDOMS – The Pavilion at Villanova University, Philadelphia, Pa. // www.philadelphiafreedoms.com
SAN DIEGO AVIATORS – Omni La Costa Resort & Spa, Carlsbad, Calif. // www.sandiegoaviators.com
SPRINGFIELD LASERS – Mediacom Stadium at Cooper Tennis Complex, Springfield, Mo. // www.springfieldlasers.com
WASHINGTON KASTLES – Kastles Stadium at the Smith Center, Washington, D.C. // www.washingtonkastles.com
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Serena Williams Sails Past Bellis at Miami Open; Murray Wins 499th Match

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

(March 29, 2015) Seven-time Miami Open winner Serena Williams moved into the round of 16 with a 6-1, 6-1 thrashing of 15-year-old countrywoman Cici Bellis in 41 minutes.

Bellis upset 2014 Australian Open finalist and the No. 12 player at the time Dominika Cibulkova in the first round of last year’s US Open.

“It wasn’t like, Oh, I’m so happy to win this match,” Williams said.

“Yeah, it was tough. I think, you know, she’s young and her being an American and her just doing so well, you want to see people like her do well. So when you’re up against them you have to kind of put that aside. Even though I’m always cheering for her. Otherwise I have to put it aside and play the match.”

“I was pretty nervous,” said Bellis. “I mean, she’s No. 1 in the world and like the best of all time for a reason.

“I think it was just a really good experience for me for the future and I’m glad I got to do it, but she’s a lot better than me for right now.”

Next up for Williams in will be 2006 Miami Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova who beat No. 13 Angelique Kerber 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

Last weekend’s Indian Wells winner, No. 3 Simona Halep has reached the fourth round by besting No. 30 Camila Giorgi 6-4, 7-5.

“It’s first time when I’m in fourth round here in Miami,” Halep said. “I like to play here. You know, I come from Indian Wells where I won a title, and I have more confidence now to win matches.

“I’m just trying to keep my mind very focused and to recover my body every day and with good work, because I need it. I feel a little bit tired, but it’s normal. I have to accept this.

“I’m just looking forward to improve more in my shots, and I just want to hit the serve better and better day by day.

“I’m working, and, you know, I just want to go on court to fight for every chance.”

Mubadala World Tennis Championship

Andy Murray is a victory away from joining the 500-win club. The No. 3 seed at the Miami Open moved into the fourth round on Sunday defeating Santiago Giraldo 6-3, 6-4.

“It’s nice, because when you see, you know, the list of the players that have won that many matches, you know, there isn’t loads,” Murray said. “I think there is only 40 or so players that have done it.

“Hopefully I can win some more throughout my career. I mean, maybe it doesn’t happen in a couple of days; I hope it does. But if not, then, you know, I’m sure at some stage I will get there.

I obviously want to try and win more, and hopefully still have quite a few years ahead of me left to add to that number.

Yeah, it’s a lot of wins. It’s not easy these days to win that many matches, so that’s a good sign.”

Next Murray hopes to become the ninth active man to reach 500 wins when he takes on Kevin Anderson on Tuesday.

Murray said it will be a “tough match.”

“He’s a big server. He plays predominantly from the baseline. Yeah, when his game is on, he’s very tough guy to play against, because he can hold serve.

“He obviously is used to these conditions here. He lives 45 minutes away, so he obviously plays and practices in this weather a lot. I won’t have as much of an advantage against him as maybe some of the guys, because he’s used to the conditions here.

“So it will be a tough match.”

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Serena Williams Wins Easily in Opening Match at Miami Open

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

(March 28, 2015) Seven-time champion Serena Williams extended her winning streak at the Miami Open to 13 after winning her opening match over Monica Niculescu 6-3, 6-1.

The two-time defending champion and world No. 1 just last weekend withdrew before her semifinal match at Indian Wells with a right knee injury. The 19-time major champ did not appear to be hindered by her injury.

“It was a little sore in practice, but it was OK today,” she said in regard to her knee.

Williams just defeated the Romanian two weeks ago at Indian Wells.

“It was definitely easier today,” Serena Williams said of playing her slicing and dicing opponent. “I knew what to expect. I still got a little frustrated, but overall was able to stay calm more than the last time I played her.”

No. 1 Williams, who is on a 16-match winning streak will take on 15-year-old Cici Bellis in the third round on Sunday.

“This one I think I played a lot smarter” – Cici Bellis Defeats Zarina Diyas in Miami for some U. S. Open Revenge

Serena’s sister Venus was also a winner on Saturday.

Venus Williams served for the match three times in the second set before closing out Sam Stosur 6-4, 7-6 (3).

“I think I served for it a few times, but the second set didn’t go exactly as I wanted,” Venus said. “But I put myself in a good position, and that was good.

“It was so interesting, because once I got to the tiebreaker, that’s when I really started to feel a lot more rhythm in my game. I think she did, too.

“So I think just playing extra games actually helped me. I think I’m going to be feeling a lot better once my next rounds come around.”

Serena told media that she and her sister plan on playing Fed Cup next month when the United States travels to Brindisi to take on Italy in the World Group Playoffs in an attempt to try move back into World Group in 2016.

“We deserve to be back in,” Serena said. “We have some of the best players in the world. We should be in the World Group A and competing for the title.”

Venus Williams will tackle No. 4 Caroline Wozniacki, in the fourth round, Wozniacki came back to stop Kaia Kanepi 4-6, 6-1, 6-3.

“We played a really competitive match early this year,” Venus said. “I can’t remember the score in the last set, but it was tough. I was just so happy to win that match, so I’m going to try to learn from that.

“I would love to win that match in two sets, but it’s going to take some work.”

The upset of the day on the women’s side came when German qualifier Tatjana Maria, ranked 113, stunned Wimbledon finalist No. 6 Eugenie Bouchard 6-0, 7-6 (4).

For the German, it was her second victory over a top ten player. Her first came against Li Na in 2010.

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Rain Washes Out Some Matches in Miami – Halep, Azarenka and Stephens Advance

Simona Halep

Simona Halep

(March 27, 2015) Rain saw the cancellation of some late afternoon matches and the evening session at the Miami Open on Friday including Serena Williams’ opening match. Saturday’s new schedule will be announced.

Miami Open – Official Statement from Tournament Director Office Regarding Tickets

Third seed Simona Halep who took home the BNP Paribas Open title, just last Sunday, won 6-4, 2-6, 6-1 against wild card Nicole Vaidisova. Vaidisova a former two-time Grand Slam semifinalist and once No. 7 in the world, is back on the tour since retiring and coming back from multiple shoulder surgeries.

 

Sloane Stephens

Sloane Stephens

In the all-American battle on Stadium court in the late afternoon, No. 45 Soane Stephens defeated No. 17 Madison Keys 6-4, 6-2.

In the first meeting between both women, Stephens broke Keys’ serve five times during the match. Keys had 36 unforced errors during the match to only 14 winners.

“One of those days where didn’t quite have the feeling; couldn’t really find it,” Keys said.

 

“Sloane played really well. I thought in the first set I kind of had a chance to come back and maybe get into the match a little bit more, but a couple of bad points here and there and it kind of just got away from me.”

 

“It was windy,” Stephens said. “The conditions weren’t that great.

 

“Because I know going out there I had to play my game and stay focused and really focus on myself. I tried to do that the best I could. Obviously the conditions were tough, so I was just happy to get out with the win.”

 

“It’s always really good to see Sloane playing well,” Keys commented on her past Fed Cup teammate. “I thought ‑ I knew ‑ it was going to be a tough match.

 

“You know, she just played better than me today. You know, wishing her all the best and hoping she goes deep now.”

 

“I just go out and play my game and stay focused,” Stephens said. “Obviously she’s a great player. I knew I had to go out there and execute.

 

“That’s what I did out there with the tough conditions. I was pleased with myself.”

 

“I know Maddy is going to have a great career,” Stephens said.

 

“I am going to see her for like the next 10 years of my life consistently. I’m looking forward to seeing her get better and keep playing and doing what she’s doing now.”

 

 

Stephens will match up against Sweden’s Larsson, Johanna, who defeated 10th seed Lucie Safarova.

 

Victoria Azarekna

Victoria Azarekna

Former Miami champion Victoria Azarenka is into the third round of Miami by beating world No. 20 Jelena Jankovic 6-1, 6-1.

The former No. 1 Jankovic was 0-13 on break point chances.

“I just really tried to stay focused and tried to find a way to stay in the game,” Azarenka said. I had to save a couple of break points right away, and then there was, you know, this battle.

 

“I know that Jelena is a fighter. Doesn’t matter what score it is, she will not give up. Some of those rallies she just went for it, and I felt like I wasn’t that aggressive on some points.

 

“So I just had to stay focused and stay tough and try to find a way to finish the match. You know, in those moments that’s what I really look for right now, to be able to step up my game when it’s needed.”

 

Azarenka, a former No 1 who has been plagued with injuries over the last two years, is currently ranked No. 36 in the world and trying to regain her form.

 

More to follow

 

Related article:
“This one I think I played a lot smarter” – Cici Bellis Defeats Zarina Diyas in Miami for some U. S. Open Revenge
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“This one I think I played a lot smarter” – Cici Bellis Defeats Zarina Diyas in Miami for some U. S. Open Revenge

(March 27, 2015) Fifteen-year-old wild card Cici Bellis exacted some revenge on 29th seed Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan at the Miami Open on Friday with a dominating 6-2, 6-1 win.

 

The young American lost to Diyas in the second round of the 2014 U.S. Open. The match before that, the current world No. 211 made some noise in the first round of Flushing Meadow when she upset 2014 Australian Open finalist and world No 12 at the time, Dominika Cibulkova. Bellis was the youngest player to win a match at the U. S. Open since 1996

 

Bellis broke her Diyas’ serve seven times during the match which lasted 76 minutes.

“This one I think I played a lot smarter,” Bellis talking about Friday’s win over Diyas to media. “At the US Open I was really like caught up in, you know, all the kind of hype that was going on.

“But this one I was just really focused and played my game. I think I did what I needed to do to win really well.”

“I think every single part of my game has improved since the US Open,” said Bellis. “I mean, just from today, like I lost to her at the US Open, which was I don’t know how many months ago, like eight months ago or something, and today I beat her 2 and 1.

“So I think everything in my game has improved. I have been working really hard, extremely, extremely hard since the US Open just for that. I think it’s really paying off, so I’m really happy.”

Bellis could face world No. 1 Serena Williams in the third round. Williams plays Monica Niculescu on Friday night in a rematch of her third round match just two weeks ago at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.

“I mean, it’s going to be really fun,” she said of the possible match against the 19-time major champion. “I have nothing to lose, so I’m just going to play my game and see what happens.”

Asked about what her mindset will be going into a possible match against Williams, she said: “Just don’t really think about who I’m playing. It’s just, you know, another one of my opponents that I’m playing. Doesn’t really matter who it is.

“We are all in the same tournament, so we are all kind of at this level. You can’t really think about who you’re playing. It’s just a ball that’s coming back on the other side of the court. You just have to go out and not think about that stuff and just play your game. That’s what I’m planning to do.”

Bellis, who will turn 16 on April 8, has not decided if or when she will turn professional.

“Amateur,” she said. “I haven’t decided yet, but I think just keep my amateur status for a little bit longer, just, you know, in case.”

After the Miami Open, Bellis plans on playing in the WTA tour event in Charleston.

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Serena Williams Hopes to be Ready to Take the Court on Friday at Miami Open

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(March 25, 2015) MIAMI, FL – Just days after withdrawing from her Indian Wells semifinal against Simona Halep with a knee injury, Serena Williams, now at the Miami Open, the two-time defending champion, hopes that she’ll be ready to play her first match on Friday.

“I’m okay,” said Williams giving an update on her health. “I’m just managing where I am right now. Just trying to stay out of as much pain as possible and see what happens.”

“I know I’m going to have to manage the pain. I think if I’m in that mental state, okay, you might be in a little pain. You just have to figure out the best way around it.”

Why not, skip the tournament all together? Williams just lives practically down the road from the event in Palm Beach County. On top of this, she’s won the event a record seven times.

“I didn’t think I would be doing this interview today,” Williams said. “I stepped on the court (to practice on Wednesday) and I was just like, I love this place. You know, I love playing at home. I live just down the road.

“So, yeah, it takes a lot. It takes a tremendous amount for me to stop. Yeah, so I don’t know if that’s a good thing or that’s a bad thing, but I think I will be okay.”

The real test for the 19-time major champion will be when she takes the court on Friday against second round opponent Monica Niculescu of Romania.

“Probably on my first match, if I get that far,” the world No. 1  said. “So, yeah, I don’t want to put too much pressure on it before.

“I’m just here in Miami, so I’m just going to go for it and see what happens.”

Williams just defeated Niculescu in the second round at Indian Wells just last week and won the match 7-5, 7-5.

“Well, I definitely don’t have low expectations,” said the American. “I just definitely expect to do the best that I can. Whether that’s winning or just stepping out on the court, that’s what I’m going to have to do.

“Again, I don’t feel any pressure because I have won this title a few times, so I feel good about being here. When I hit on the court today, just something about Miami, you know. I just feel so good out here.

“So I was like, Oh, this is fun. I’m just looking forward to just enjoying myself this year more than anything.”

“I think every player has pain. I said this before. I don’t know any player that goes out there without pain. Every match I play, I mean, I could be 10% in pain or I could be 80% in pain. It just kind of depends how you feel and how can you manage that.

“Knowing ahead of time the problems that you’re dealing with, usually you have a good way. Okay, we’re dealing with this problem and this is how you treat it, so you can be able to play at a high level.

“Now that I kind of know what’s going on, I’m able to treat it and be able to play at a higher level than I would have been able to play a couple of weeks ago.”

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What a Difference a Week Makes

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

(March 20, 2015) INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA – Just as the tournament spun in the early days with the expectation of Serena Williams’ return, so it would end in an almost eerie echo of 14 years ago.

 

Social media had already buzzed about the news during the previous semi-final, and when she took to the court mostly to cheers, a few boos could be clearly heard from the Press balcony, coming from above, but the announcement was cleverly stage managed to celebrate 40 years of the tournament, and the momentousness of Williams come-back just a week ago.

 

Williams spoke to the press immediately afterwards and confirmed: “I was just on the practice court two days ago, day and a half ago, yesterday, and everything was going good. Literally last two couple minutes of practice I went for a serve and I just felt a super sharp pain in my knee.

 

“It was like, Okay, and I served again. I felt it again. I just came off, and it hasn’t been the same since. I have done everything. Like I have just pretty much done everything from taping to research and I even did an injection. I have never done an injection before.

 

“I think if this was any other event I probably wouldn’t have considered it. I wanted to give 200%. It just wasn’t meant to be this year.”

 

She has stated she intends to return to Indian Wells next year.

 

Meanwhile – we had the ATP quarter-finals to conclude, and that too was a tale of two halves.

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Roger Federer almost bullied his way to the semi-finals of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. From the outset he had Tomas Berdych on the back foot, at one stage throwing up three double faults in one game before Federer finally broke through the door he had been battering down. A single break was a respectable margin for the first set, but it was not enough as Federer stepped up a gear, and Berdych crumbled once more in a key match 6-4, 6-0.

 

The confidence he had at the start of the year with regards to changing the team around him, once more could not manifest itself when it came to the crunch, as Berdych tried to explain.

 

In his post-match news conference he said: “When you feel that he’s in control right from the beginning, then of course you have to come up with your best game from the beginning of the match. I mean, you just want to play well. You just want to play your best. There is a very thin line in between that and overdoing it. It’s not so easy, really, to control it every single time that you go play with a player like this, even if he’s playing in such a good shape.

 

“Today I stepped a little bit over it, so hope the next time, next day, it’s just going to stay on the line.”

 

With the very real prospect of the World Top 4 contesting the Indian Wells semi-finals, Federer cast his eye over another match up with Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard started aggressively against Milos Raonic, breaking him before the first change of ends in the first set.

 

Federer said: “Matches against him are always tough, I think. You know, he’s going to play the percentages high. He’s not going to miss many shots. He’s got a great forehand, one of the best ever. Then physically and mentally he’s always going to be there. That what makes him so good and so tough over all these years. “

 

It looked for all the world like we would be in for a quick afternoon, but somehow Raonic clung on to set, needing five set points in total (three in the tie-break) to take only his second set off the Spaniard.

 

Milos Raonic

Milos Raonic

Going toe-to-toe with him in the decider had everyone ready for a decisive tie-break but for a loose game by Nadal to give Raonic a 6-5 lead. For once it was right to come down to that serve as Raonic held his nerve to close out a 4-6, 7-6(10), 7-5 win, his first over Nadal and it sets up an intriguing rematch now against Federer after their encounter in the season opener in Brisbane.

 

Raonic believes he can be ready for Saturday’s semi-final after such a momentous win.

 

He said: “I think I have a good understanding of what I need to do against Roger. Obviously that’s the easiest part, understanding it, rather than doing it. But I think the last three times we have played I have sort of been able to change course a little bit, especially when it was important to me in Paris. Even the other two I didn’t play well at the start of the matches, in London and in Brisbane, but I was able to find a way to fight myself back into those matches and give myself some opportunities.

 

“I’ve just got to keep calm, keep collected, and just try to figure out solutions and adjustments as they come.”

 

The ATP semi-finals will be played on Saturday.

 

Ros Satar is a British sports journalist and a writer at Livetennis.com.

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