2015/07/05

Halep, Bouchard Beaten, Williams Sisters Withdraw from Doubles

(June 30, 2015) On Tuesday the Williams sisters pulled out of women’s doubles at Wimbledon. In a statement, Serena’s official reason for the withdrawal was “soreness”

“Following yesterday’s match, I feel it would be best for me to concentrate on singles here at Wimbledon, and as a result, have made the decision to withdraw from doubles,” Serena said in a statement. “I’ve always loved playing doubles with Venus, particularly here at Wimbledon where we’ve had so much success over the years, and so I’m really sorry to have to withdraw this year.”

Serena and Venus both won opening round singles matches on Monday. World No. 1 Serena is seeking her fourth straight major in a row for a second “Serena Slam” and is attempting to win the third leg of a traditional Grand Slam.

Misaki Doi and Stephanie Vogt replaced the Williams sisters in the draw.

The biggest upset of the tournament took place on Tuesday when third seed Simona Halep lost to No. 106th ranked Jana Cepelova 5-7, 6-4, 6-3.

Halep was treated for a lost toenail in the first set.

“I knew it would be a difficult tournament for me,” said Halep whose has been suffering from some poor results recently. “But I didn’t expect to lose in first round.” Last year the Romanian reached the semifinals at the All-England Club.

“To be honest, I have no reaction because, like I said at my first press conference on the weekend, I had no expectations for this tournament. And now here I am,” she said. “I knew that it would be a difficult tournament for me, but yeah, I didn’t expect to lose in the first round. But she played good tennis today. She was fighting until the end, and she was playing aggressively when she could.

“Life is not always good, but I have enough power to go ahead and just think about what I have to do to do better, and just get the good feeling back on court during my matches. I just have to work hard.”

Halep’s Opponent in last year’s Wimbledon semifinal was also ousted on Tuesday. Eugenie Bouchard, lost her 12th match out of the last 14, beaten by Chinese qualifier Duan Ying-Ying, ranked 117th 7-6 (3), 6-4.

“It’s been a huge learning process to have great results and then have, you know, so much attention, then have bad results,” Bouchard said. “Just learning about the ups and downs of life and tennis, how things won’t always go perfectly, like I expect them to. I’m always trying to keep the belief and stay true to myself and do what I need to do to become as good as I know I can be. So it’s really just been kind of eye-opening, a learning experience,” she added, resting her chin on her right hand, then added with a laugh: “But I’m good for the learning experience to be over now.”

Bouchard has been suffering from an abdominal tear which limited her practice.

“Probably wouldn’t have been smart to play here, but I couldn’t pass on Wimbledon,” said Bouchard. “In my head, it was no question I was going to play, even though I was advised not to. It’s just the way I am. It’s so hard to be forced not to play tennis, especially at Wimbledon.”

“So I did kind of minimal preparation to save myself for this match.”

The loss will put Bouchard out of the Top 20.

WIMBLEDON – WIMBLEDON, LONDON, GBR
GRAND SLAM – £26,750,000
29 JUNE – 12 JULY 2015

RESULTS – JUNE 29, 2015
Women’s
Singles – First Round

(2) Petra Kvitova (CZE) d. Kiki Bertens (BED) 61 60
Jana Cepelova (SVK) d. (3) Simona Halep (ROU) 57 64 63
(5) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) d. Saisai Zheng (CHN) 75 60
(8) Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) d. (Q) Sachia Vickery (USA) 62 64
(10) Angelique Kerber (GER) d. Carina Witthoeft (GER) 60 60
(Q) Ying-Ying Duan (CHN) d. (12) Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) 76(3) 64
(13) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) d. Lucie Hradecka (CZE) 63 62
(15) Timea Bacsinszky (SUI) d. Julia Goerges (GER) 62 75
(17) Elina Svitolina (UKR) d. Misaki Doi (JPN) 36 63 62
(18) Sabine Lisicki (GER) d. Jarmila Gajdosova (AUS) 75 64
(20) Garbine Muguruza (ESP) d. Varvara Lepchenko (USA) 64 61
(21) Madison Keys (USA) vs. Stefanie Boegele (SUI) 67(3) 63 22 (Suspended: darkness)
(25) Alize Cornet (FRA) d. Ana Konjuh (CRO) 62 62
(26) Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) d. (Q) Laura Siegemund (GER) 63 64
(28) Jelena Jankovic (SRB) d. Elena Vesnina (RUS) 64 36 108
(31) Camila Giorgi (ITA) d. Teliana Pereira (BRA) 76(4) 63
Heather Watson (GBR) d. (32) Caroline Garcia (FRA) 16 63 86 (Saved 3mp)
Denisa Allertova (CZE) d. Katerina Siniakova (CZE) 62 46 63
Lara Arruabarrena (ESP) d. Pauline Parmentier (FRA) 64 62
Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (CRO) d. Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ) 75 67(5) 75
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) d. Mona Barthel (GER) 67(3) 76(4) 62 (Saved 1mp)
Silvia Soler-Espinosa (ESP) d. Sesil Karatantcheva (BUL) 26 62 75
Christina McHale (USA) d. Johanna Larsson (SWE) 63 62
Krystina Pliskova (CZE) d. Tereza Smitkova (CZE) 36 75 75
Monica Niculescu (ROU) d. Monica Puig 57 63 61
Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK) d. Karin Knapp (ITA) 76(6) 30 retired (Right ankle injury)
(Q) Olga Govortsova (BLR) d. Andreea Mitu (ROU) 61 61
Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) vs. Elizaveta Kulichkova (RUS) 62 67(6) 11 (Suspended: darkness)
Tatjana Maria (GER) d. Bojana Jovanovski (SRB) 76(2) 75
Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) d. Klara Koukalova (CZE) 63 64
Casey Dellacqua (AUS) d. (Q) Tamira Paszek (AUT) 62 62
Evgeniya Rodina (RUS) d. (WC) Laura Robson (GBR) 64 64
Kurumi Nara (JPN) d. Magda Linette (POL) 36 63 43 retired (Left thigh injury)

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Birmingham Day 4 – Weeding Out the Field

 

By Ros Satar

(June 18, 2015) BIRMINGHAM, England – With seeds and home favourites having stumbled over the past few days in the Midlands, the championship is now largely on Simona Halep’s racquet to lose. Having come through a good brace of results now, she is putting what was ultimately a disappointing clay court season behind her and pushing on impressively on the grass.

 

After dashing British hopes in the second round, beating Naomi Broady 6-4, 6-2, she eased into the quarter-finals with a 50 minute workout over Klara Koukalova, 6-1, 6-3.

 

Having been usurped over the clay court season, where she was expected to shine, Halep was taking nothing for granted.

 

She said, after the match: “I expected a tough match because she plays very hard on grass with her type of game. It’s difficult to play her on this surface but I didn’t really want to think about that – I just came out here and played my game, played my style, stayed aggressive and especially served very well in the match.”

 

She later joined British No. 1 Heather Watson, who was edged out in her opening round in straight sets, and looking for some wins under her belt – but it certainly was not looking likely as the pair were swiftly battling against a 0-5 deficit in the opening set.

 

The first time pairing got themselves together in the second set, breaking for the advantage, and although they were pegged back, another break to the scratch twosome meant they could serve out for the set.

 

It was nip and tuck throughout the match tie-break until Watson and Halep close out a 1-6, 6-3, 10-7 win.

 

She said: “It was difficult at the beginning because, [it] was my first match on grass, doubles on grass. It’s not easy. The ball was coming very fast and I didn’t know where to hit because I saw both of them there. So it was really difficult, and I’m really happy we could win this match. It’s really important. It’s good we played first time together, so it’s a nice game.”

 

She continued: “I have no expectation from me this grass season, so I just want to go on court and play what I know. On clay I had pressure and I couldn’t handle it. I played bad and I couldn’t feel like relaxed on court. So that was the bad thing.

 

“So I just took some days off home and I said that I have to relax my mind and just going on court to play.”

 

With third seed Carla Suarez Navarro also posting a solid win today, the field looks set for a high quality finale, as the pair were joined by Angelique Kerber who got the better of former champion Jelena Jankovic, and fresh from her record breaking ace haul, Sabine Lisicki looks to be returning to the kind of grass form that put her in her maiden Grand Slam final.

 

The quarterfinals start on Friday at 11am.

 

Ros Satar is a British sports journalist covering tennis, and can also be found at Britwatch Sports.

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First Timers shine in the Birmingham sun

Victoria Azarekna

Victoria Azarekna

By Ros Satar

(June 16, 2015) The Birmingham field this year has been boosted by a couple of debutantes who certainly shone on a rare sunny day in the Midlands. First up was a pumped looking Victoria Azarenka, and if her exertions while waiting to walk out onto court were anything to go by, the former World No. 1 was more than up for this challenge.

Except her opponent Varvara Lepchenko had other ideas, racing out to a 4-0 lead, as Azarenka perhaps was over-pushing in her eagerness to make her mark, before Azarenka finally started to find the court, to put it bluntly.

From 4-0 up to coming out on the wrong side of a momentum-switching tie-break must have been galling to the American, as Azarenka powered on, and although she was pegged back by Lepchenko after she surged out to a 3-0 lead of her own, it was not enough to stop Azarenka making a winning start 7-6, 6-4.

The Belarusian can always be counted upon to give a full and frank assessment of her time out on court.

“I felt that I didn’t really start well. I wasn’t really there. I was missing too much,” Azarenka said. “Of course she played well and forced me to do a lot of things but I just didn’t feel that I put in enough energy or concentration. Something wasn’t quite working.”

She continued: “I just tried to stay positive as much as possible and try and fight through it. I think that was one thing that I did really well today. I made something happen in the important moments and tried to change the flow of the match in my favour.

Azarenka has been marching back up the rankings but there are still signs of rustiness, in closing out matches for example.

“I think I still have to sharpen my game, and as a perfectionist I’m always looking to improve.”

Meanwhile Simona Halep needed to sharpen up her own game after a clay court season she would have reasonably expected to sail through, Instead though, save for her run to the semi-final of Stuttgart, it was nowhere near a par with her run to the Madrid and Roland Garros finals. She was bounced out of Madrid, yet dealt with the loss maturely. She did better in Rome, but her French Open points were lost in the red clay as she fell in the second round.

She was up against British wildcard Naomi Broady, hoping to lift the crowd’s spirits after British No. 1 Heather Watson was ousted in two tight sets by Aleksandra Krunic, whose match sharpness coming through qualifiers proved to be too much for Watson on her comeback from injury at Roland Garros.

Give Broady her credit, she hung tough with Halep, making the top seed work hard for the break, but once she did, the Romanian went on a sprint through the next six games in a row. It was too much for the Brit to come back from, although she managed to at least get back on the board in the second set.

“I had a really tough opponent today. She played really well and her first serve is very big – it’s not easy to return her serve,” Halep said. “The first set was really tough, and I can say I was a little bit lucky to get the break in the end, but overall I’m happy how I did and that I could win this match today.

“It’s the first tournament of the year for me on grass, and it’s not easy to adapt my game on grass, but last year I had good results on it and I come here with confidence. I believe I have my chances.”

Play continues in Edgbaston from 11am BST.

Ros Satar is a British sports journalist covering tennis, and can also be found at Britwatch Sports.

 

 

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Third Seed Simona Halep Ousted at French Open

Simona Halep

(May 27, 2015) Last year’s French Open finalist, No. 3 seed Simona Halep became biggest casualty of the tournament on Wednesday when she bowed out to the 70th ranked Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 7-5, 6-1 in the second round.

The 1999 Wimbledon semifinalist also knocked the Romanian out of last year’s U.S. Open.

“When I saw the draw and I saw who I was playing second round, I knew it was going to be really tough,“ said the Croatian. “I was going to have to play a great match again and back up sort of what I did at the US Open. Because, you know, sometimes people say, Oh, it’s one day everything went in, and I don’t look at it like that. I know I played really well. I have been working really hard, and I knew today I had to play some great tennis. I was ready for it. I have been feeling really good also in practices. Even though my results haven’t really been that great lately, I have been feeling great. I knew just it’s a matter of a moment coming, you know, winning few matches and results are gonna come. I’m glad I was able to do that again today.”
“I just tried to play really smart, really well and aggressive, not let her do what she likes to do,” Lucic-Baroni continued. “She moves the ball around really well. She’s an amazing athlete and super tough opponent. I was glad I was able to stay aggressive but not make too many unforced errors. That was the key for me.”
She played well. I couldn’t play my best today,” Halep said. “But, you know, she started to hit the ball very strong at the beginning of the match. So she was better than me today, and I have just to take, you know, this situation to handle it and just to go forward.”
Defending champion Maria Sharapova defeated Russian countrywoman Vitalia Diatchenko 6-3, 6-1. She’ll face 2010 Roland Garros finalist Samantha Stosur. Stosur destroyed French wild card Amandine Hesse 6-0, 6-1.

“Playing Maria is always a big challenge for me,” Stosur said. “No matter what surface it’s on, I don’t have a very good record at all. Obviously we played last year. That’s the last time we played against each other. So it’s always a big challenge, and I’ve got to be ready to have to play, you know, as well or maybe if not better than what I have been doing. So it’s one of those matches that’s a tough matchup, but I know I’ve got, you know, the game that can trouble here, and hopefully I can do it well and we will see what happens.”
“She’s always a tough opponent,” Sharapova said of Stosur. “She enjoys playing on clay, benefits a lot from this surface. Yeah, it will be a tough match. But, you know, I have a pretty good record against her. I enjoy our matches. I hope I can continue that.”

Stosur has a seven match win streak, winning the Strasbourg event on clay last week, her first title of the year.

Stosur credits her old coach David Taylor, who is back with her as of last month for her resurgence.

“I think going back with Dave, that’s given me confidence,” Stosur said. “That’s probably a contribution, and then playing on a surface that I feel good on. Been able to get over a couple of injuries again. It all I guess makes for a better kind of couple of weeks.”

Sharapova has a 14-2 record against the Australian.
Second seed Roger Federer defeated Marcel Granollers 6-2, 7-6 (1), 6-3, while his Swiss countryman Stan Wawrinka also reached the third round with a 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 6-3 win over Dusan Lajovic.

Federer, who was approached by a fan on the court for a selfie in his last match, was happier with the on-court security on Wednesday.

“I think everybody is a little bit more alert,” he said. “That was the only wish I had. It’s just that the security is more alert. They don’t need to change anything that we need to have fences and all that stuff, not at all. Tennis is one of the most accessible sports out there, and we are unbelievably close with our fans. That’s what I love about it. So for me it was just more important that everybody was doing their job, taking it very seriously, wakes up and that they are standing in the right places and to keep an eye on what’s really important and not about just being there, you know. I think I felt that today. So now we have just got to all keep it up for years to come. I know it’s a lot of work, but it was a good exercise I think for everybody.”

American Steve Johnson has reached the third round. The world No. 56 defeated Sergiy Stakhovsky.

“He kind of came out and steamrolled me in the first set and early part of the second, but righted the ship a little bit. In the third I played a bad game to get broken back,” said the former NCAA champion. “I think it’s just a sign of maybe I’m maturing a little bit. Maybe in the past I would’ve lost my cool a little bit. I kind of stayed calm, won the breaker. In the fourth he started to serve much better. I didn’t have any looks. I think he made all kinds of first serves. I didn’t really have that many looks at seconds. So I was happy to have won that crazy last couple points in the breaker.”

It was a good day for French players 12th seed Gilles Simon, 14th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, 13th seed Gael Monfils, unseeded Nicolas Mahut and unseeded Benoit Paire. All five men won, with Monfils having to survive a five set struggle 4-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 against Diego Schwartzman, Paire knocking out 28th seed Fabio Fognini in straight sets and Mahut upset 24th seed Ernest Gulbis in four sets.

 

“Actually, today I won because I had the crowd behind me,” Monfils said.

 

Nick Kyrgios, the 29th seed received a walkover into the third round as British qualifier Kyle Edmund withdrew with a stomach injury.

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Roger Federer Blasts French Open Security After Selfie-Seeking Fan Runs on Court

(May 24, 2015) Roger Federer began his French Open center court on with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 victory over qualifier Alejandro Falla n Paris on Sunday.

As Federer was leaving the court, a fan ran onto the court trying take a “selfie” with the world No. 2.

“Well, I’m not happy about it,” Federer said. “Obviously not one second I’m happy about it. It happened yesterday in the practice, too. It’s just a kid, but then three more kids came. And today on center court where you would think this is a place where nobody can come on, just wanders on and nothing happens. Happened during the finals in ’09 as well for me. So I definitely think this is something that something needs to happen quickly. Basically yesterday already. Not now, you know. But obviously want this to happen immediately. Normally I only speak on behalf of myself, but in this situation I think I can speak on behalf of all the players, that that’s where you do your job, that’s where you want to feel safe. And so clearly I’m not happy about it. But nothing happened, so I’m relieved. But clearly it wasn’t a nice situation to be in.”
A similar incident happened to Federer took place in 2009 during the French Open final, when the Swiss defeated Robin Soderling for his lone French Open title. A man ran out on the court and tried to put a hat on Federer.

“Gilbert Ysern (Roland Garros Tournament Director) already came and apologized to me, and we had a quick conversation,” Federer said. “I just told him what I think needs to happen. I told him about yesterday, as well, which he didn’t know about. Yeah, I’m sure they will take the necessary steps now, but this doesn’t only mean for this tournament for this year; it means for all the tournaments we play all the years coming up. We need to make sure that it’s safe out there and people don’t just wander on the court like a free pass, you know. That’s how it’s supposed to be.”
It also brought back painful memories of when Monica Seles was stabbed on-court by a fan in 1993 in Hamburg, Germany.

“Well, I know Monica very well,” Federer said. “I met her again in New York. It’s not that funny, that’s true, not at all, I’d say. I know that on these courts people are really close to the courts. It’s easy to jump above and be on the courts. I don’t know what we should do, what we should do to avoid these things. But it’s the reaction. You know, if these things happen and they should never happen, if people can get close to us, to me, you know, it shouldn’t happen. And then how they are going to change this? I don’t know. They will tell us. Of course, I couldn’t react, the kid was coming from behind me.”
As for his first round match, Federer hit 43 winners in the victory over the world No. 111.

Ysern held a news conference of his own later in the day.

“Well, I won’t react to his (Federer’s) comments, I will react to the facts,” Ysern said. “Of course his comments made sense. He was pissed off with what happened in court. He has good grounds for being unhappy. Well, I prefer to react to what happened. I think, well, some extent it’s not the end of the world. Of course we should not make too big a case of that, but it’s embarrassing, of course, for Roland Garros, when something like that happens. Well, it simply shows that we collectively as an organization made a mistake and we will have to correct that, of course, and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

“I’m not going to tell you I’m happy with what happened this afternoon. But honestly, at this stage there is no reason for us to change the security procedures. They are organized; it was just a lack of judgment this afternoon. Clearly the security people who were on court did not do the job the way they should have done, of course, to say the least. Again, it’s a question of lack of judgment from them, and — well, we all know in tennis, like in other sports, the current approach consists in having the players — the crowds close to the players, you know, looking for signatures, autographs, and pictures, selfies and all that. Again, I think that’s where the lack of judgment this afternoon lays. I mean, the instinct and direction of security people must have been that it was something that was acceptable, which is clearly not. So again, I think we should understand that the issue here again is lack of judgment on the part of the people who are on court. It’s not the procedures that are in place that are wrong. No need to say that, of course, the message is passed again among all the security people. And tonight for sure we will reinforce the message again that clearly nobody is allowed to get on court in any case at any time for any reason. It has to be very clear. Of course, well, the fact that all you here is a good opportunity for me as well to remind everybody on court that this is still totally forbidden. And there are opportunities for the crowds to cheer for players, opportunities to get close to them. You know, we organize that, and the players are very helpful in that regard these days. They are giving some time to make themselves available for the crowds and the fans to get closer to them. But of course, the court is clearly forbidden for them to go on, and, well, they have to respect that. Of course, contrary to what happened this afternoon, we will enforce that rule more severely from today on and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

 

Federer’s countryman Stan Wawrinka also advanced to the second round with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 over Marsel Ilhan.

Wawrinka is also upset with the French Open organizers complaining about a “completely stupid article” that he says appeared on the official http://www.rolandgarros.com tournament website on Saturday which touched upon his private life. The article was taken down.

Wawrinka said he spotted the article Saturday and “I told the tournament that I wasn’t really happy about it.”

“It’s official website of a Grand Slam, so I hope the guy who did that article is not a journalist. I also hope the guy who is supposed to check all the article on the website is not working anymore for the tournament. Because for me, for a Grand Slam website, it should be an article about the tennis and that’s it.”

I saw the article last night,” Wawrinka told media. “I told the tournament that I wasn’t really happy about it, and I don’t think it was great for the tournament to do that sh*t article. That’s it. But after that, you know, I’m here to play tennis and to focus on my game. I can put that on the side, and that’s it.”

Ysern also commented on the article:”We have to pay attention when we proofread the papers. But given what we have on the Internet, so many people write so many things, so many papers. So controlling this is complicated. It’s complicated to control all levels, but we have to do this. When we missed this yesterday, we tried to catch up. Of course, we got rid of this paper, and that’s all. Everybody has faults. We have to admit it.”

Kei Nishikori, the fifth seed  knocked out Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-3, 7-5, 6-1 to advance.

“I think it was solid match,” noted Japan’s top player.  “Second set he started playing much better. He was hitting the ball pretty well, especially his backhand. But, yeah, after that I was playing some good tennis on the court, and, you know, I think it’s not easy to play three straight sets easy. So, you know, there is some up and downs, and I think I fight through pretty well.”

Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga make his country very happy with a 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 win over Swedish qualifier Christian Lindell.

“Today I played a good match,” Tsonga said. “I was really in the match. I was solid from the very first minute, and therefore I was more relaxed afterwards. Then things went on well after that. I was aggressive the way I had to be. I played well. I played a good match, and therefore, I didn’t have to stay too long on the court. That’s it.”

Ernests Gulbis earned just his third match win on the year, defeating Igor  Sijsling in straight sets.
Ivo Karlovic became the first seeded man to fall at the French Open. The 25th seed lost 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-4 to Marcos Baghdatis. Baghdatis was a 2006 Australian Open finalist.

In another surprise on the men’s side, Steve Johnson of the United States, squandered a two set lead, then rallied from a break down in the fifth set to defeat 26th seed Guillermo Garcia Lopez 6-3, 6-3, 6-7(1), 3-6, 6-3 to move into the second round. the match lasted almost three-and-a-half hours.

On the women’s side, third seed and last year’s losing finalist, Simona Halep held off Evgenia Rodina 7-5, 6-4. 

“It was a tough match, because it was first round and always is difficult to start the tournament,” Halep said. “But, you know, she played well. She’s playing well. Yeah, I did feel easy mistakes, but it’s normal and I accept that. Next round I will be better, for sure.”

2008 champion Ana Ivanovic rebounded from a first set loss to stop Yaraoslava Shvedova 4-6, 6-2, 6-0.

“It was a little bit of tough start,” said the Serb. “I didn’t have many matches coming into the tournament, so I was really happy that I manage in the second set to sort of play a little bit deeper and put a little bit more pressure on her. In the third set I really felt like, okay, I was playing my game.”

 

Caroline Garcia became the first upset victim on the women’s side. The 31st seed lost to Donna Vekic 3-6, 6-3, 6-2. 

“I am disillusioned, every French Open I can’t play tennis whether I’m playing a top-10 player or Vekic, who is a good player,” Garcia said. “I can’t make it here. It doesn’t depend on the opponent. It just depends on myself, and I can’t play here at the French Open and hope that it will change in the future.”

Another women’s seed exiting early was No. 25 Peng Shuai who retired with a back injury against Polona Hercog.

 

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Halep, Bouchard and Venus Williams Fall in Madrid

 

madrid logo

(May 3, 2015) Seeds (2) Simona Halep, (6) Eugenie Bouchard and (16) Venus Williams lost in the opening round matches of the Madrid Open on Sunday.

The Romanian Halep, the biggest casualty of the day failed to take advantage of two set points in the first set before falling 7-6 (6), 6-3 to Alize Cornet of France.

It was business as usually for No. 1 Serena Williams, who only dropped one game in her match against Madison Brengle while defending champion defending champion Maria Sharapova advanced after stopping Timea Bacsinszky 6-2, 6-3.

Williams will take on Sloane Stephens, and Sharapova face qualifier Colombian Mariana Duque Marino.

“I don’t think I’ve played her on clay yet,” Williams said about Stephens. “We had a really tough three-set match the last time we played. She’s playing really well. She’s moving well and is having a better year this year. I think she’s kind of flying under the radar.”

Sister Venus Williams, lost Victoria Azarenka 6-3, 7-5.

Venus Williams, seeded 16th, went up a break at 4-3 in the second set, only for Azarenka to win four of the next five games.

Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic rallied from a 6-0, 3-0 deficit against Bouchard, 0-6, 6-3, 6-3, while former US Open champion Samantha Stosur served 14 aces to upset 12th seed Angelique Kerber, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3. It’s Bouchard’s sixth straight loss.

 

SCHEDULE – MONDAY, 4 MAY 2015

MANOLO SANTANA start 11:00 am
WTA – S. Kuznetsova (RUS) vs G. Muguruza (ESP)
WTA – [5] C. Wozniacki (DEN) vs [Q] C. Mchale (USA)
Not Before 3:15 pm
ATP – B. Becker (GER) vs [11] F. Lopez (ESP)
ATP – F. Fognini (ITA) vs S. Giraldo (COL)
Not Before 8:00 pm
WTA – [1] S. Williams (USA) vs S. Stephens (USA)
Not Before 9:30 pm
ATP – J. Vesely (CZE) vs [9] M. Cilic (CRO)

ARANTXA SÁNCHEZ-VICARIO start 11:00 am
WTA – C. Dellacqua (AUS) vs [9] A. Radwanska (POL)
Not Before 1:00 pm
ATP – A. Mannarino (FRA) vs [16] J. Isner (USA)
Not Before 3:00 pm
WTA – R. Vinci (ITA) vs A. Cornet (FRA)
WTA – [11] A. Petkovic (GER) vs I. Begu (ROU)
ATP – J. Chardy (FRA) vs [Q] T. Bellucci (BRA)
ATP – E. Gulbis (LAT) vs D. Goffin (BEL)

STADIUM 3 start 11:00 am
WTA – [13] L. Safarova (CZE) vs T. Pironkova (BUL)
Not Before 1:00 pm
ATP – S. Querrey (USA) vs [Q] T. Kokkinakis (AUS)
ATP – [Q] A. Gonzalez (COL) vs S. Johnson (USA)
ATP – J. Janowicz (POL) vs [LL] J. Sousa (POR)
ATP – B. Tomic (AUS) vs [Q] L. Vanni (ITA)

COURT 4 start 11:00 am
WTA – D. Jurak (CRO) / A. Parra Santonja (ESP) vs [WC] V. Dushevina (RUS) / M. Martínez Sánchez (ESP)
WTA – K. Kanepi (EST) vs S. Stosur (AUS)
WTA – A. Medina Garrigues (ESP) / M. Niculescu (ROU) vs K. Mladenovic (FRA) / K. Pliskova (CZE)
WTA – After rest – A. Groenefeld (GER) / A. Panova (RUS) vs [3] G. Muguruza (ESP) / C. Suárez Navarro (ESP)
ATP – R. Bopanna (IND) / F. Mergea (ROU) vs M. Draganja (CRO) / H. Kontinen (FIN)

COURT 5 start 11:00 am
WTA – M. Krajicek (NED) / B. Strycova (CZE) vs [PR] J. Husarova (SVK) / I. Olaru (ROU)
Not Before 2:00 pm
WTA – [WC] M. Keys (USA) / L. Raymond (USA) vs M. Erakovic (NZL) / J. Goerges (GER)
WTA – After rest – C. Dellacqua (AUS) / Y. Shvedova (KAZ) vs [6] C. Garcia (FRA) / K. Srebotnik (SLO)
WTA – TBA – [8] A. Hlavackova (CZE) / L. Hradecka (CZE) vs . Alternate / Unknown

COURT 6 start 12:30 pm
WTA – [5] R. Kops-Jones (USA) / A. Spears (USA) vs Z. Diyas (KAZ) / S. Peng (CHN)
WTA – After rest – J. Gajdosova (AUS) / A. Tomljanovic (CRO) vs [7] B. Mattek-Sands (USA) / L. Safarova (CZE)
WTA – A. Kudryavtseva (RUS) / A. Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) vs S. Soler-Espinosa (ESP) / M. Torró-Flor (ESP)

 

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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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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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Simona Halep Rallies Past Jelena Jankovic for Indian Wells Title

Simona Halep

Simona Halep

(March 22, 2015) INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA – It might not have been the final that people wanted, in amongst the hoopla surrounding Serena Williams return and subsequent withdrawal in the semi-final, but with 16 minutes gone and only two games on the board, there was no doubt the crowd were going to get their money’s worth, between former champion Jelena Jankovic and World No. 3 Simona Halep.

 

It was always going to be important for Jankovic to be able to move, and having struggle with injury ahead of the match, she kept the press core in stitches with her lack of preparation, but ultimately bringing in attacking play as well as defence would be the key.

 

There were early signs of nerves by Halep who struggled for eight minutes as Jankovic put in a pleasing display of aggressive drive volleys and her trademark backhand down the line to take the first game, but failed to consolidate as Halep settled back down quite quickly, as the first passage of play resolved on serve as Halep got the first hold of the day.

 

Jankovic took the initiative once more, this time managing to consolidate on a break of serve, nudging her into a commanding position at 4-2. With Halep venting her frustration on her racquet, it was clear to see that Jankovic’s aggression was perhaps throwing Halep off her game plan a little, as the Serbian broke again to come out and serve for the match.

 

With Halep receiving a medical timeout for her toe before the second set, it was important that she came out to hold her first service game, but her relief was short lived, as Jankovic kept the pressure on, in fact if anything starting to get a little frustrated at herself, which may have spurred her on to put the hammer down on the Romanian.

 

A loose game by the Serbian to get broken to love put Halep back in the driver’s seat and the second set back on serve at 3-3, and for the briefest moment it looked like we could be in for the three-setter that we wanted but the Romanian handed the break straight back and with it, her hopes for her biggest title in her career.

 

Halep had to dig out a further break, aided and abetted by some typical Jankovic drama which included three double faults, a time violation warning, and Jankovic trying to serve while a ball-kid was still scrambling off the court. It was an emotional rollercoaster for Halep, who once more found herself rapidly facing break points succumbing to the fourth straight break of serve this match, but more dangerously giving Jankovic serving for the title.

 

Admitting to her coach Chip Brooks that she was nervous she reverted to the defence we often see in her game, just giving Halep the opportunities to dig out winners, breaking her with the fifth consecutive time this set. With finally a hold to stop the run of breaks, Halep suddenly seemed the aggressor as Jankovic tightened up as the match went into a decider.

 

Again the initial advantage went to the volatile Serbian, but Halep was never far away from breaking back, as the pair treated the crowd to some great rallies, not to mention more drama as the chair umpire seemed to forget about the nuances of second serves.

 

 

With both struggling to keep hold of their serve in the final set, Jankovic called her coach back once more but her serve and resolve seemed to desert her once and for all as Halep broke for a 5-3 lead to serve for the title, but handed back the advantage straight away.

 

It took yet another break to love to seal the deal for the Romanian 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 after what started out as a difficult week for her, after a personal bereavement. It had been a great run for Jankovic who struggled to deal with the nerves of closing out, having won her last title in 2013.

 

After the match, Jankovic admitted that she had let her opportunities pass her by.

 

She said: “I let those nerves take the best out of me. That shouldn’t happen. I was full of emotions. I was just overwhelmed and excited that I’m in the final and I put myself into a position to win.

 

“So it’s been an amazing two weeks. Yes, of course I’m disappointed that I lost this final, because I really had a chance to win and hold that trophy. But I’m still proud of myself and my team how far I came into this tournament and what I have achieved.”

 

Halep admitted she knew she was being rushed into mistakes, especially in the first set, and finally the key had been to make her run over the three sets.

 

Talking to the press with the giant glass trophy at her side, she said: “She knew how to play me today to make more mistakes. It was difficult for me to take that balls very high and without power, so I did many mistakes with my forehand.

 

“My coach came on court and he said that I’m rushing at that balls. So I said, Okay, I understand, and I go now to play not very strong those balls.

 

“I just try to stay cool, to make her run a lot. I know that she’s running well, but still my backhand down the line was good today. Forehand so so. Everything went well, and, you know, I have no comments now. I have like, in my mind, it’s like ‑‑ I have another title, my biggest title now, so it’s amazing. I feel great.”

 

After attempting to lift it, she confirmed she intends to play Miami, as does Jankovic.

 

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

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