September 5, 2015

More Women’s Seeds Lose, Young Beats Simon, Federer Cruises at US OPen

Lucie Safarova

Lucie Safarova

(September 1, 2015) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – The upsets continued on the women’s side of the draw at the US Open on Tuesday. French Open finalist sixth seed Lucie Safarova lost to No. 37 Lesia Tsurenko 6-4, 6-1, while 14th seed Timea Bacsinszky lost to Barbora Strycova 7-5, 6-0 Alizé Cornet 27th seed Alizé Cornet also was defeated. Ten women’s seeds have lost in the first round at the US Open, half of the Top 10.

No. 11 Gilles Simon led Donald Young by two sets to none and 3-0, when the American rallied to win the match 2-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

“Down two sets to love and 3-0 actually, that’s when I decided to swing a little freer, start to, you know, push the envelope a little bit and start to come in more, just assert myself to the match,” Young said. “I was going to go down swinging. That was pretty much my mentality at that point.”

“I love playing in New York. I love playing on hard courts. It’s the last slam of the year. I haven’t had the results I wanted at the other slams. I didn’t want to go out like that.

“If I was to go out, I really wanted to go out swinging and giving him a battle and making him earn it. I didn’t feel at first I was able to do that. To be able to do that was great. Emotionally I just felt, you know, it gives you confidence to know you can come back from 2 sets to love against such a quality opponent, a top 10 guy, wins titles and, competes at the highest level every week.”

This was the first time Young had ever come back in a match from two sets to love down.

There was no such drama for high seeds (2) Roger Federer, (2) Simona Halep, (4) Caroline Wozniacki, (6) Tomas Berdych and (9) Garbine Muguruza.

Federer destroyed Argentine Leonardo Mayer 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 in 77 minutes.

“I feel good now,“ Federer said. “I actually wasn’t so confident yesterday and today. I just felt like maybe could be one of those matches I just couldn’t see it coming.

“So thankfully I took this match extremely serious. I thought at times almost I was taking it a bit too serious. I got that lucky in Shanghai, so that’s why that was just — it was just creeping around in my mind that maybe today was going to be a bad day.

“Plus I had practiced with him, you know, here, I don’t know, the day of the draw, and he was playing very well in practice, too.”

A record was set for retirements during the first round of the U.S. Open than in any round at any Grand Slam tournament in the open era.

Twelve men and women have retired during matches on Monday and Tuesday. Tuesday pull-outs included Marcos Baghdatis, Ernests Gulbis, Thanasi Kokkinakis, Aleksandr Nedovyesov and Marina Erakovic.

Andy Murray bested controversial Nick Kyrgios in four sets in the night match. The young Australian Kyrgios was playing his first match since and episode in Montreal where he verbally abused Stan Wawrinka. He’s been put on probation by the ATP, and if he misbehaves in the next 6 months at an ATP event, he could face a suspension and fine. However this would not apply for the US Open as it’s a Grand Slam.

RESULTS – SEPTEMBER 1, 2015
Women’s
Singles – First Round

[2] Simona Halep (ROU) def. Marina Erakovic (NZL) 6-2, 3-0 (retired – knee injury)
[4] Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) def. Jamie Loeb (USA) 6-2, 6-0

[5] Petra Kvitova (CZE) def. Laura Siegemund (GER) 6-1, 6-1
Lesia Tsurenko (UKR) def. [6] Lucie Safarova (CZE) 6-4, 6-1
[20] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) def. Lucie Hradecka (CZE) 6-1, 6-2
[11] Angelique Kerber (GER) def. Alexandra Dulgheru (ROU) 6-3, 6-1

[18] Andrea Petkovic (GER) def. Caroline Garcia (FRA) 3-6, 6-4, 7-5
[9] Garbiñe Muguruza (ESP) def. Carina Witthoeft (GER) 6-2, 6-4

[22] Samantha Stosur (AUS) def. Timea Babos (HUN) 6-3, 6-4

[16] Sara Errani (ITA) def. Mayo Hibi 6-0, 6-1
Johanna Konta (GBR) def. Louisa Chirico (USA) 6-3, 6-0
Elena Vesnina (RUS) def. Laura Robson (GBR) 3-6, 6-3, 7-5

Kurumi Nara (JPN) def. [27] Alizé Cornet (FRA) 2-6, 6-4, 6-4

Petra Cetkovska (CZE) def. Christina McHale (USA) 4-6, 6-4, 6-3

[24] Sabine Lisicki (GER) def. Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) 6-1, 6-4
Varvara Lepchenko (USA) def. Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) 6-1, 6-1

Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) def. Francesca Schiavone (ITA) 6-3, 6-1

Qiang Wang (CHN) def. Maria Sakkari (GRE) 7-5, 6-2

Shelby Rogers (USA) def. Sachia Vickery (USA) 6-2, 6-2
Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (SVK) def. Julia Goerges (GER) 6-3, 6-4
Nicole Gibbs (USA) def. Lourdes Dominguez Lino (ESP) 6-3, 3-6, 6-4
Barbora Strycova (CZE) def. [14] Timea Bacsinszky (SUI) 7-5, 6-0
Danka Kovinic (MNE) def. Aleksandra Krunic (SRB) 4-6, 7-5, 6-1
Mona Barthel (GER) def. Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL) 5-7, 7-6(4), 6-1
[26] Flavia Pennetta (ITA) def. Jarmila Gajdosova (AUS) 6-1, 3-6, 6-1
Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) def. Annika Beck (GER) 6-4, 1-6, 6-4
Evgeniya Rodina (RUS) def. Tereza Mrdeza (CRO) 6-2, 6-2
Karin Knapp (ITA) def. Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 6-7(1), 6-2, 6-4
Olga Govortsova (BLR) def. [28] Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU) 6-1, 0-6, 7-6(3)
Camila Giorgi (ITA) def. Johanna Larsson (SWE) 6-3, 6-3
Kateryna Bondarenko (UKR) def. Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) 6-0, 6-3

Monica Niculescu (ROU) def. Alexandra Panova (RUS) 7-6(3), 5-7, 6-3

Men’s
Singles – First Round

[2] Roger Federer (SUI) d. Leonardo Mayer (ARG) 61 62 62
[5] Stan Wawrinka (SUI) vs. Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) 75 64 76(6)
[6] Tomas Berdych (CZE) d. Bjorn Fratangelo (USA) 63 62 64
Donald Young (USA) d. [11] Gilles Simon (FRA) 26 46 64 64 64
[12] Richard Gasquet (FRA) d. Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) 46 61 46 63 20 ret.
[13] John Isner (USA) d. Malek Jaziri (TUN) 62 63 64
[21] Ivo Karlovic (CRO) d. Federico Delbonis (ARG) 63 75 75
[30] Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) d. James Ward (GBR) 61 75 63
Jurgen Melzer (AUT) d. Denis Kudla (USA) 63 75 61
Austin Krajicek (USA) d. Santiago Giraldo (COL) 36 76(6) 76(6) 76(1)
Mikhail Youzhny (RUS) d. John-Patrick Smith (AUS) 61 36 75 76(4)
Jiri Vesely (CZE) d. Paolo Lorenzi (ITA) 64 64 64
Gilles Muller (LUX) vs. Ruben Bemelmans (BEL)
Aljaz Bedene (GBR) d. Ernests Gulbis (LAT) 36 64 30 ret.
Robin Haase (NED) d. Dustin Brown (GER) 46 46 63 75 64
Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) d. Paul-Henri Mathieu (FRA) 64 26 67(7) 61 62

More to follow…

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Top US Open Seeds Meet the Media in Flushing Meadows

(August 29, 2015) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY) The top seeds at the 2015 US Open met the media on Saturday ahead of Monday’s start of the last major of the year.

Third seed Andy Murray and second seed Simona Halep spoke to the media in the relaxed setting of Media Garden located behind Arthur Ashe stadium.

Murray was asked about playing the controversial Nick Kyrgios in the first round, which is projected to be a very competitive match for the Scotsman.

“For me it’s just a tennis match,” Murray said. “I go about the match in the best way possible by getting all the things, getting all the tactics, and everything sorted and you know, tailor my practices the next few days around his game style and that’s what I’ll be doing. You don’t obviously pay attention to the other stuff.”

Murray talked about past match-ups with the Australian. Murray holds a 3-0 record against his challenger.

“Every match is a new match. You can learn, obviously, from those previous matches, see what things worked and what things didn’t, but he might come in and do something completely different against me next time, so I need to be prepared for that. He’s quite an unpredictable player so you need to expect that when you go on the court.

Yeah I’ve played well against him, I played good matches, but he’s obviously a top player, you know, just missed out in a seeding here and I’m sure he’ll be one of the top players here in the next few years.

On playing Kyrgios at the US Open: “To be honest, I think he likes playing on big stages. That’s where he’s played his best tennis throughout his career. Last year he’d only won one or two matches outside of Slams in the whole year. This year, his results have been inconsistent but at the Slams he made quarters. In Australia, I played him in the third round at the French and at Wimbledon he was close to reaching the quarters again there. I would expect him to be ready for the match. He gets himself fired up for the big events.”

Simona Halep

Simona Halep

For Romania’s Simona Halep, despite a recent left knee problem, she’s really to go.

“Now, I’m feeling great; I’ve recovered and I’m ready to start.”

“I think in the past I didn’t believe that I had the chance to do great here. Now, I’m feeling better and I’m feeling more confident. I had two great weeks before here and I think it’s going to help me. I’m just going to enjoy it and I’m not going to think about the pressure.

“Actually, I play well when there’s pressure, but not too much.”

Asked she wanted Serena Williams to win the Grand She said:

“If I will not be in the finals, then I want her to win. If I’m in the finals with her, then I want to win.

“I said that because she has a big chance to win all four Grand Slams this year. I think she has enough power to do that, but of course I want to win. I just want to take it match-by-match.

 

The Media Day interviews moved over to Media Interview Room One as last year’s US Open finalist Kei Nishikori took on the press.

“I think from last year this time I kind of stepped one up and I raised my level after this tournament, so I’m very happy with everything this year. Especially this summer I’ve been playing really well, from Washington and Montreal. I unfortunately got hurt and couldn’t play Cincinnati but still I feel very good physically and also tennis-wise, so very exciting, and it’s going to be a big challenge for me to play this year, again, but I’m very confident.”

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic entered his news conference with a stuffed animal Mickey Mouse, which he sat on the desk.

The Serb is really to take on New York. “Generally I have huge incentive and motivation to play US Open as any other Grand Slam, Djokovic said.”
“These are the events where you want to perform your best. These are the events
where you want to go far and compete for the title. Just being here is a pleasure and of
course as anybody else, I’m excited and looking forward to getting on the court”
Djokovic is coming into the US Open aiming to win his third major of the  year. He won three majors in 2011.
He compared his game in 2011 to now:
“I’m a different person, a different player today than I was in 2011, so it’s kind of hard to
compare tennis-wise. I think physically I’m stronger and I’m able to endure longer than I did in 2011 and maybe there are some slight differences in the game, but generally as you grow older you’re kind of maturing and you’re trying to develop your game and get your game to the highest possible level. I think this season, results-wise (is) pretty close to 2011. What I achieved in 2011 is hard to repeat, so this season is definitely just behind that one. But I don’t usually like to compare myself to any other season because every season brings some new challenges at both professional and private levels so it’s pretty different.”
315Federerin press.-001

Roger Federer is coming off a title in Cincinnati where he played a more aggressively, beating Djokovic in the final, and in some matches returning serves from just behind the service line. The Swiss was asked about this aggressive style game.

“It all starts with the serve, to be quite honest,” Federer said.

If you’re able to hold your serve, I don’t want to say you can do pretty much anything on the return, but chances are it’s in your favor. You don’t know if you’re going to hold most of the serves, but I did that very well last week, so I’m sure that’s where the service helped me, but … after that, as the tournament went on, I decided to keep up aggressive play because it didn’t just start against Murray and Djokovic, I had already been doing it against Bautista and also Kevin Anderson, so from that standpoint I was very happy that I was able to keep it up.”

“If I’m going to do it here, as well, at practice so far conditions definitely allow you to do. I think the ball flies faster here. The surface is slightly different than last week, so a slight adjustment to be done there. I’m just really focused on my first round. It’s really tough to be playing Leonardo Mayer, so I have to come back to reality after the good week I had last week and go from there.”

Federer, a five-time winner at the US Open, last made a final in 2009. He has not come close since and was asked about it.

“On the run I was on, to ‘08 and even ‘09, in the finals, clearly I was hoping for it to be endless, but you know that’s not realistic, and ’10 and ’11 were tough matches in the semis against Novak, “Federer said. “So I came very close.”

“Clearly my focus needs to be not trying to win the tournament right away, that’d be thinking too far ahead. I haven’t been in a finals in this tournament as of late. I came close, but close is not good enough. I’ve tried to build up as we move forward.”

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal comes into Flushing Meadows ranked the lowest he’s been in many years at No. 8. The Spaniard will face a rising star on the ATP tour in Borna Coric in his first round.

“He’s a tough player,” Nadal said. “He’s a young player with a lot of energy and he’s a big competitor. He’s one of the players that is the future of our sport, so it’s a tough one, but I’m playing well. I feel like I’m ready. He’s a complete player with a great serve and a very good backhand. He’s a big competitor. I don’t remember playing him before. It was a tough week for me; I had the surgery the week after. I don’t remember it very well, but I think I played very bad. If he played well then he deserved to win, but hopefully Monday will be a different story.

Nadal says that he’s coming into the tournament with not as much stress.

‘My stress is much less than it was at the beginning of the season,” said the two-time US Open champion. I’m feeling better

myself. As a tennis player, I’m feeling better today than I was a couple of months ago. I’ve worked a lot these last couple of months.

“I know the process; It’s a challenge for me. to find the level of play that I’ve been at a lot of times in my career. I’m practicing great, now it’s time to play that great against the competition. The level of tennis is very close to being back there.”

On getting his confidence back, Nadal said: “To have the confidence back you need to win. If you’re not winning, then you won’t have high confidence. To win you need to play well. To win a lot you need to play very well and have a lot of confidence, and I’m playing well today.”

Nadal also clarified to press that he did not refuse to play with or against Nick Kyrgios in a charity exhibition for John McEnroe’s foundation.

“I was never supposed to play a doubles match,” Nadal explained. “First, I was only supposed to play singles in the exhibition. That was wrong information. Second, I never knew I had to play against Kyrgios; I was told I was going to play Lleyton Hewitt. No one asked me to play doubles with Nick Kyrgios. I was only asked to play a singles match; since Roland Garros I knew that. This story that I was supposed to play a doubles match? I don’t know where that story comes from.”

Sharapova 382014 IW

Maria Sharapova is coming back from a muscle strain in her leg which kept her out of Cincinnati and Toronto.

“It’s always just the adjustment of being a professional athlete in a sport that requires many weeks out of the year to compete ata high level,” said the 2006 US Open champion. “Don’t always know where some things come from but sometimes you have to make adjustments to be healthy and ready for the big ones. I’ve had to make adjustments throughout the year and it only gets tougher as you get older, of course”

 

Asked about her preparation for the US Open, the Russian said: I’ve done everything I could to be ready. There’s nothing more that I could have done, so yeah, I hope to be ready.”

 

Sharapova faces a test in her first round match-up against countrywoman Daria Gavrilova who beat her in Miami.

“Well, obviously she’s a really great player and a tough first round we’ve gone back and forth with our results this year,” Sharapova said. “She beat me in Miami and I had a good win against her in Rome so yeah, she’s a really good opponent.”

 

Serena Williams held her pre-US Open news conference after the draw on Thursday.

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama at the US Open

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Simona Halep Withdraws From Connecticut Open

220 Halep bh-001

(August 23, 2015) Simona Halep has withdrawn from the Connecticut Open presented by United Technologies due to a left thigh injury. She is replaced in the draw by lucky loser Lesia Tsurenko.
“I am very sorry that I have to withdraw from New Haven,” said Halep in a statement. “I love the tournament and obviously have great memories there having won the title before. I have had a tough few weeks that have left me with pain in my left leg and unfortunately I can’t force myself myself to play so close to the US Open.”
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Roger Federer and Serena Williams Defend Cincy Tennis Titles

RFederer821

(August 23, 2015) Serena Williams and Roger Federer became the first women’s and men’s champions to defend their Cincinnati titles since the lat 1930s on Sunday. Williams defeated new No. 2 player Simona Halep 6-3, 7-6(5) for her second Western and Southern Open crowns while Federer stopped top ranked Novak Djokovic 7-6(1), 6-3 for his seventh.

Federer prevented Djokovic from claiming the only Masters 1000 title he has never won.

“The fifth time I’ve been in the title (match) and never won this title, so I guess I have to wait for Roger to retire,” Djokovic said. “I’ve been coming back each year wanting it more.”

“I really hope you can win here someday,” Federer told Djokovic during the trophy ceremony. “He deserves it. C’mon, so close.”

The win puts the 34-year-old Swiss back up to No. 2 in the world and gives him his 24 Masters title and 87th career tournament title. He is 7-0 in Cincinnati finals.

“I think I moved well,” Federer said. “I was explosive moving forward. Volleys were good. I think from the baseline was hitting my forehand very well. I was serving very well this week, don’t get me wrong, but I still think there was a little bit more room for improvement on the serve. I wasn’t always hitting all spots as perfect as I was hoping it to be. In practice I didn’t feel this good, to be quite honest.

“This has always been a good week for me. I think the volunteers make a wonderful tournament with the tournament director, and it’s very fan friendly as well. I get in touch a lot with the fans this week. It’s just a nice venue. Great center court. Good atmosphere. Good court speed for me. So many things for me to like about it.  Those are the reasons I’m sure I play well here.”

“Well, it’s the sport,” the Serbian said of the loss. “You can’t win all the time. I won many matches this year. Of course it’s disappointing at this stage to reflect on the match. Could have done some things better, but I lost to a better player, no question about it. I have to deal with it. US Open is around the corner, and I have to already turn the next page. Hopefully I can do well there.”

Serena Williams heads to New York’s U.S. Open trying to become the first player since Steffi Graf in 1988 win a Grand Slam.

“I’m ready,” Williams said. “I don’t care if I win or lose or break even. I’m ready to start it, get it over with, and be done and go on to the next event. But I’m so ready for New York. Let’s go, right?”

“I know you can do four,” Halep said to Williams during the trophy ceremony.

2012 US Open champion Andy Murray clinched the 2015 Emirates Airline US Open Series men’s title with Roger Federer’s victory over Novak Djokovic in the final of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. Murray, who also won the Emirates Airline US Open Series title in 2010, will attempt to set a record for the largest payout in tennis history at the US Open – $4.3 million ($3.3 million for winning the US Open and a $1 million bonus for winning the US Open as Emirates Airline US Open Series champion).

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2015 Connecticut Open Preview

petra kvitova CTOpen15 all access by Jack Cunniff

Petra Kvitova (Photo by J. Cunniff)

By Jack Cunniff

(August 23, 2015) NEW HAVEN, Connecticut – For the first time since 2006, the field at the 2015 Connecticut Open features five of the world’s top ten women’s players, and that depth should make for an unpredictable event. Here are some highlights of this year’s top entrants:

 

Simona Halep (No. 2) 2013 New Haven champion was the top seed, and she has played well this summer, coming off of back-to-back finals in Toronto and Cincinnati. She withdrew from the tournament on Sunday night.

 

Second seeded Petra Kvitova (No. 4), the defending champion, also receives an opening round bye. Kvitova has not won a match since Wimbledon, and she recently disclosed that she was diagnosed with mononucleosis, which helps to explain her recent listless form. The good news for Kvitova is that she thrives in the laid-back environment of New Haven, having reached three consecutive finals here, and is one of two players to have defeated top ranked Serena Williams in 2015.

 

Caroline Wozniacki (No. 5) is a four-time winner in New Haven, and seeded third at this year’s event. She was not initially planning to play the Connecticut Open, but early round losses in Stanford, Toronto, and Cincinnati have her looking for more match play before the U.S. Open, which begins August 31st. In pre-tournament interviews, Wozniacki has proclaimed herself fit and ready for action.

 

Lucie Safarova (No. 6) had the best result of her career in advancing to the 2015 French Open final, where she battled Serena Williams for three sets before losing. That result has catapulted her into the top ten for the first time in her career. Safarova has had mixed results since Paris, including a first round exit in Toronto to Daria Gavrilova, who she will face in a re-match in her opening round in New Haven.

 

A year ago, Karolina Pliskova (No. 7) was ranked 69th and won only two games in her first round qualifying match in New Haven. Much has changed in the last 12 months for the 23-year old Czech. She has reached eight WTA finals, winning three of those (Seoul, Linz, Prague). Success has evaded Pliskova in the Grand Slam events, but she has proven to be a consistent threat at the other tour stops.

 

Other players that could contend at the Connecticut open include: a pair of Wimbledon finalists, 2012 runner-up Agnieszka Radwanska (No. 15), and 2014 runner-up Genie Bouchard (No. 24); another major finalist in 2012 French Open runner-up Sara Errani (No. 16), former top ten player Flavia Pennetta (No. 26), rising young American Madison Keys (No. 19) who reached the 2015 Australian Open semifinals, the Swiss veteran Timea Bacsinszky (No. 14) who reached 2015 French Open semifinals, and Elina Svitolina (No. 20) a 20-year-old Ukranian who has risen quietly up the rankings in 2015.

Jack Cunniff is covering the Connecticut Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN. His personal twitter is @JRCunniff.

 

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Belinda Bencic Wins Rogers Cup in Toronto

Belinda Bencic photo courtesy of the LTA by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images for LTA

By Brodie Widdifield

(August 16, 2015) TORONTO, Canada – Nothing about Sunday’s final between Simona Halep and Belinda Bencic was ordinary.

 

While everyone would have reasonably expected to see the second seeded Romanian Halep in the final, no one saw the fairy tale run of 18 year old Belinda Bencic coming. The young Swiss eliminated a whos who of top WTA players – Bouchard, Wozniacki, Lisicki, Ivanovic and finally Serena Williams Saturday night.

 

The dramatic turns of the match itself were befitting to what has been a dramatic week of tennis in Canada overall. With the sun beating down, the players traded five consecutive breaks to kick things off. Both players were changing directions often, creating many long, intriguing rallies from the baseline.

 

And then, the crowd. While there has been a large contingent of vocal Romanians in the crowd all week, they were the most vocal for the final. At one point, chair umpire Marija Cicak even said the Romanian word for thank you, “mulțumesc”, in order to try and quiet the crowd, which was met with an eruption from the crowd’s Romanian fans.

 

For all their cheering, Bencic was unfazed as she squeaked out the opening set in a tiebreak, 7-6(5), in well over an hour. “It’s amazing that the atmosphere is so great even if it’s against me. The people are very excited, and really, I feel like it’s the right thing. I think some people in some other tournaments should take an example from here.”

 

And then the match turned again.

 

Halep began receiving treatment for her left thigh, which seemed to be impeding her movement. Later in the set she had blood pressure taken, was wrapped in ice and drinking liquids in an attempt to keep her energy up. “We both were fighting so hard,” said Bencic. “We had long rallies, so it was obvious that we were very exhausted, both.” Amazingly, she took the second set in a tiebreak, barely reacting and simply hanging her head as she walked slowly back to her chair.

 

In the end, Halep was spent and decided to end the match, giving the title to Belinda Bencic 7-6(5), 6-7(4), 3-0 ret. “I was thinking that I need a miracle to finish the match, but at 3-0 I said it is no sense to continue, and I stopped.”

 

“I had great victories,” said Halep. “So I take only the positives. I’m thinking to play Cincinnati, then I am entered on the New Haven tournament. And then US Open. So I don’t change anything right now. So I will see next days.”

 

This is the second title of Bencic’s season, and without a doubt the biggest week of the 18-year-old’s career. “I just feel like I improved myself, also in the game, but also in how I understand the game and know the opponents well and try to think on teh court and what I need to do. And I’ve also grown as a player. I think my service improved a little bit. And I feel like I still have potential to go better, to play better and to serve better and just everything.”

 

“Obviously it’s very big boost for your confidence. Now I actually feel like I belong here, and that I can be really one of the top players. It’s an amazing feeling.”

 

Brodie Widdifield is the author of the tennis web site mindtheracket.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @MindTheRacket. He was covering the Rogers Cup in Toronto for Tennis Panorama News.

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Serena Williams Beaten by Swiss Teen Belinda Bencic in Toronto Semis

 

By Brodie Widdifield

(August 15, 2015) TORONTO, Canada – It started quietly, but it ended in fireworks.

 

Belinda Bencic has been a name of the lips of many WTA fans this year. It started with a coaching partnership with fellow Swiss Martina Hingis, and her impressive win over Agnieszka Radwanska at Eastbourne gave her a first WTA title. She kicked off her hard court swing in Toronto with a series of impressive wins over Eugenie Bouchard, Caroline Wozniacki, Sabine Lisicki and Ana Ivanovic.

 

But no one saw this coming.

 

Bencic took on world No. 1 Serena Williams Saturday night and it quickly looked like match might not be anything more than an exhibition of the American’s ability to change angles and attack. Williams raced out to a 5-1 lead in just 33 minutes, taking the set 6-3.

 

The young Swiss player did manage to construct some better points at the end of the set, and she managed to get a foot hold in the match. The players traded serves, but Serena’s serving quickly began to deteriorate, eventually ending with her being broken in the middle of the set and taking her frustration out violently on her racquet. “I think I played really crappy today. And I don’t think you would disagree,” said Williams. “I was just really struggling with my serve today and everything wasn’t right with it.”

 

Belinda failed to close out the second set at first, but eventually broke at 5-6 as the lights got brighter and the noise from the crowd grew louder. “Obviously she wasn’t serving as great as she normally does,” said the Swiss. “But I think I tried to read her serve also I read it better in the end, and I was returning sometimes very good on the big points.”

 

The struggles continued for Serena into the third set and Belinda raced to a 4-0 lead. Williams fought back to get things on serve. “I was very nervous in that moment, but I told myself today is my chance and I really have to stay focused and be mentally tough, even if I didn’t do it on the first try.” But the Swiss completed the upset, breaking at 4-5 and taking the match 3-6, 7-5, 6-4.

 

“In the end it was just so loud, and I didn’t think anything.”

 

The win was undoubtedly the biggest of her young career. “I can’t describe the feeling right now. I was very overwhelmed from the situation on the court, but I’m just so happy the forehand landed in and she couldn’t reach it anymore. It was an incredible feeling. I have no words.”

This was just the second loss on the year for the 33-year-old Serena Williams.

 

The 18-year-old Bencic will take on Romanian Simona Halep in Sunday’s final. Halep defeated Sara Errani 6-4, 6-4 earlier in the day. “She’s an amazing player. She’s so consistent all of the year and definitely going to be a hard match, but I think today I have to enjoy this victory and tomorrow I will look what I can do against her.”

 

Brodie Widdifield is the author of the tennis web site mindtheracket.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @MindTheRacket. He is covering the Rogers Cup in Toronto for Tennis Panorama News, follow @TennisNewsTPN for updates.

 

TORONTO RESULTS, SATURDAY AUGUST 15, 2015

Singles – Semifinals
B. Bencic (SUI) d [1] S. Williams (USA) 36 75 64
[2] [WC] S. Halep (ROU) d [15] S. Errani (ITA) 64 64

Doubles- Semifinals
[4] C. Garcia (FRA) / K. Srebotnik (SLO) d [1] M. Hingis (SUI) / S. Mirza (IND) 63 62
[3] B. Mattek-Sands (USA) / L. Safarova (CZE) d K. Mladenovic (FRA) / K. Pliskova (CZE) 64 76(5)

MONTREAL RESULTS, SATURDAY AUGUST 15, 2015

Singles – Semifinals / Demi-finales
[1] N. Djokovic (SRB) d J. Chardy (FRA) 64 64
[2] A. Murray (GBR) d [4] K. Nishikori (JPN) 63 60

Doubles- Semifinals / Demi-finales
[1] B. Bryan (USA) / M. Bryan (USA) d [6] A. Peya (AUT) / B. Soares (BRA) 67(7) 64 10-7
D. Nestor (CAN) / E. Roger-Vasselin (FRA) d [PR] N. Djokovic (SRB) / J. Tipsarevic (SRB) 36 61 10-4

TORONTO ORDER OF PLAY – SUNDAY, AUGUST 16, 2015

CENTRE COURT start 1:00
B. Bencic (SUI) vs [2] [WC] S. Halep (ROU)
[4] C. Garcia (FRA) / K. Srebotnik (SLO) vs [3] B. Mattek-Sands (USA) / L. Safarova (CZE)

MONTREAL ORDER OF PLAY – SUNDAY AUGUST 16, 2015

COURT CENTRAL start 12:30 pm
[1] B. Bryan (USA) / M. Bryan (USA) vs D. Nestor (CAN) / E. Roger-Vasselin (FRA)

Not Before 3:00 pm
[1] N. Djokovic (SRB) vs [2] A. Murray (GBR)

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In Topsy-Turvy Match, Simona Halep Bounces Back to Reach Toronto Semis

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By Brodie Widdifield

(August 14, 2015) TORONTO, Canada – When trying to determine what we should expect from a match we often look to the players’ past matches against each other and how their styles of play compare and contrast. No one would have predicted the topsy-turvy, entertaining affair that took place Friday afternoon in Toronto at the Rogers Cup.

 

Simona Halep and Agnieszka Radwanska played each other three times in 2014. All three were straight set matches on hard courts, with Halep taking two of three. With the Romanian battling through a grueling three set match with Angelique Kerber on Thursday, it looked like she may fail to even win a game.

 

“It was difficult, because I was a bit tired when I started the match, and I didn’t have time to warm up very well before because it was raining, and the schedule was a little bit complicated,” said Halep. The world No. 3 won just 13 of 40 points in the first set, and Radwanska rolled to a 6-0 lead.

 

Halep managed to finally get a service hold and slowly the match began to change. The Romanian took some pace off of her shots which slowed the rallies and allowed her to play with more angles and spin in the slow, grey conditions of Toronto. “After that set I said that I have to change something. I was hitting the balls very strong, and it was not a good idea playing against Radwanska because she knows how to make you run during the point. I just tried during the point to make her run, like with short cross. I think I did a good change, and that’s maybe why I won.”

 

The second set quickly started to look like Halep’s match against Kerber as the length of rallies increased, including some thrilling ones that ended at the net. A particularly crazy game at 3-3 proved to be the turning point, as after Halep won it, the match was essentially over. She won eight of the following nine games and rolled to a 0-6, 6-3, 6-1 victory to make her first semifinal in Canada.

 

“I think played my best tennis since Miami. I come from bad results in the French Open and Wimbledon, but players always have ups and downs and I just wanted to stay focused to still believe in myself that I can do some results this year.”

 

The Romanian continued to thank her wild Romanian fans both on the court and in press after the match. “Today when I was down 0-5, they were supporting me like I was up 5-0. It was amazing, and they gave me power just to stay there, still fighting for the victory.”

 

Halep will face Sara Errani in the semifinals, who defeated qualifier Lesia Tsurenko 6-4, 6-4 later in the day. Halep will also attempt to become the second straight Romanian to make the final of the WTA version of the Toronto event after Sorana Cirstea made it all the way to Sunday in 2013. Halep leads the head to head, 2-1, and won their only meeting this year in Stuttgart, 6-4, 6-4.

 

Brodie Widdifield is the author of the tennis web site mindtheracket.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @MindTheRacket. He is covering the Rogers Cup in Toronto for Tennis Panorama News, follow @TennisNewsTPN for updates.

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Simona Halep Safely into the Final 16 in Toronto While Five Seeds Fall

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By Brodie Widdifield

 

(August 12, 2015) TORONTO, Canada – While much of the mainstream media’s attention has been on the baffling struggles of Eugenie Bouchard, Simona Halep has quietly had a disappointing 2015. After falling in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, she went on to win Indian Wells – the biggest title of her career. Beyond that, it was disappointment as she fell in the second and first rounds of Roland Garros and Wimbledon, tournaments she had made the final and semifinals of just a year prior.

 

The 23-year- old Romanian admitted to being tired after Indian Wells and Miami. “At the beginning of the year I played some good tennis, but after I lost at two grand slams were last year I played good tennis. But maybe I couldn’t handle the pressure, and maybe I was a little bit tired. My life has changed a lot. Obviously everyone in my country is recognizing me and it’s a little bit tough. I have to accept and go forward.”

 

After a post Wimbledon break with her family, Halep decided to play Toronto, and the fans in Canada could not have been happier about her decision. Romanian fans came out in droves to support Sorana Cirstea during her unlikely run to the final in 2013 in Toronto, and they were chanting Simona‘s name after just the first game.

 

“I’m really happy that I have such a big support. Romanians are everywhere, so I really want to thank them for supporting me. It’s really nice to see our flag everywhere. Many Romanian words in the crowd. So that makes me happy on the court and makes me more, you know, more stronger that I have big support, and I can say that I fight easier.”

 

The support certainly did not hurt. Halep came out of the gate strong against Jelena Jankovic Wednesday afternoon. Changing directions early in the rally and keeping the ball deep, she was consistently on top in rallies. “I tried just to be aggressive, to take the ball as soon as possible, because I know that she has good defense. I tried to keep my first serve in because she’s returning well. I tried to play her forehand more, because I know she has a strong backhand. I didn’t want to rush myself, just go into the court and just to take the ball fast and to open the court.”

 

Continuing to move well and keeping errors low, the good form continued into the second set and Halep went on to take the second round match 6-3, 6-4. “I can say that I had stress free because I did not have expectations for this match because I had a long break. But I did pretty well today and I’m really happy I could win in two sets.” The win could set up some of the best matches of the tournament, as Halep will face Angelique Kerber on Thursday and potentially Agnieszka Radwanska in the quarterfinals.

 

Brodie Widdifield is the author of the tennis web site mindtheracket.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @MindTheRacket. He is covering the Rogers Cup in Toronto for Tennis Panorama News, follow @TennisNewsTPN for updates.

ROGERS CUP PRESENTED BY NATIONAL BANK – TORONTO, CANADA
$ 2,513,000.00
10- 16 AUGUST 2015

RESULTS – AUGUST 12, 2015
Women’s
Singles – Second Round

[2] [WC] S. Halep (ROU) d J. Jankovic (SRB) 63 64
V. Azarenka (BLR) d [3] P. Kvitova (CZE) 62 63
B. Bencic (SUI) d [4] C. Wozniacki (DEN) 75 75
[5] A. Ivanovic (SRB) d [Q] O. Govortsova (BLR) 64 76(4)
[6] A. Radwanska (POL) d [LL] J. Goerges (GER) 75 63
D. Gavrilova (RUS) d [7] L. Safarova (CZE) 46 75 75
[Q] L. Tsurenko (UKR) d [8] G. Muguruza (ESP) 75 61
[Q] P. Hercog (SLO) d [11] E. Makarova (RUS) 62 67(2) 75
[13] A. Kerber (GER) d [Q] M. Puig (PUR) 62 63
[15] S. Errani (ITA) d M. Brengle (USA) 63 26 63
[16] A. Petkovic (GER) d [Q] H. Watson (GBR) 64 63
R. Vinci (ITA) d [Q] M. Lucic-Baroni (CRO) 63 63
S. Lisicki (GER) d B. Strycova (CZE) 76(3) 64
[Q] C. Witthoeft (GER) d A. Riske (USA) 64 57 63
A. Cornet (FRA) d D. Cibulkova (SVK) 63 62

Women’s
Doubles – Second Round

[3] B. Mattek-Sands (USA) / L. Safarova (CZE) d D. Jurak (CRO) / R. Kops-Jones (USA) 62 62
I. Begu (ROU) / I. Olaru (ROU) d [8] G. Muguruza (ESP) / C. Suárez Navarro (ESP) 76(5) 06 10-4
First Round
[6] S. Errani (ITA) / F. Pennetta (ITA) d [Alt] M. Barthel (GER) / M. Minella (LUX) 61 63
H. Chan (TPE) / Y. Chan (TPE) d [7] A. Hlavackova (CZE) / L. Hradecka (CZE) 64 36 10-8
A. Medina Garrigues (ESP) / A. Parra Santonja (ESP) d C. Chuang (TPE) / C. Liang (CHN) 36 61 10-8
[WC] F. Abanda (CAN) / H. El Tabakh (CAN) d G. Dabrowski (CAN) / A. Rosolska (POL) 75 75
[WC] B. Bencic (SUI) / D. Cibulkova (SVK) d L. Arruabarrena (ESP) / A. Klepac (SLO) 61 76(5)
[WC] S. Fichman (CAN) / C. Zhao (CAN) d C. Chan (TPE) / P. Kania (POL) 16 64 10-5

ORDER OF PLAY – THURSDAY, AUGUST 13, 2015
CENTRE COURT start 11:00 am
R. Vinci (ITA) vs D. Gavrilova (RUS)

Not Before 1:00 pm
[13] A. Kerber (GER) vs [2] [WC] S. Halep (ROU)
[15] S. Errani (ITA) vs V. Azarenka (BLR)

Not Before 7:00 pm
[1] S. Williams (USA) vs [16] A. Petkovic (GER)
[Q] P. Hercog (SLO) vs [5] A. Ivanovic (SRB)

GRANDSTAND start 11:00 am
[Q] L. Tsurenko (UKR) vs [Q] C. Witthoeft (GER)
B. Bencic (SUI) vs S. Lisicki (GER)
[6] A. Radwanska (POL) vs A. Cornet (FRA)

Not Before 6:00 pm
K. Mladenovic (FRA) / K. Pliskova (CZE) vs M. Krajicek (NED) / B. Strycova (CZE)
A. Medina Garrigues (ESP) / A. Parra Santonja (ESP) vs H. Chan (TPE) / Y. Chan (TPE)

COURT 1 start 12:00 noon
[WC] S. Fichman (CAN) / C. Zhao (CAN) vs [2] E. Makarova (RUS) / E. Vesnina (RUS)

Not Before 1:00 pm
[4] C. Garcia (FRA) / K. Srebotnik (SLO) vs [WC] F. Abanda (CAN) / H. El Tabakh (CAN)
[1] M. Hingis (SUI) / S. Mirza (IND) vs J. Goerges (GER) / K. Jans-Ignacik (POL)

Not Before 3:00 pm
After Suitable Rest – [6] S. Errani (ITA) / F. Pennetta (ITA) vs [WC] B. Bencic (SUI) / D. Cibulkova (SVK)

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WTA All-Access at 2015 Rogers Cup

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By Brodie Widdifield

(August 10, 2015) TORONTO, Canada – The beginning of August always represents one of the most exciting times of the year for Canadian tennis fans with the Rogers Cup tournament getting underway. For players on the WTA, it represents the beginning of the North American hard court swing, and the end of a short but enjoyable post-Wimbledon holiday.

It’s definitely my favourite time of the season,” said Caroline Wozniacki. The Dane has dealt with a back injury this season and stressed the importance of fitness for this difficult yet important part of the season. “The most important thing is to stay healthy.”

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Petra Kvitova has been less lucky with her health, unfortunately. “I spent a few days off in Monaco as a vacation. I was trying to practice a little bit, but unfortunately I was diagnosed with mono.” The Czech emphasized that she was working with her team to properly schedule her practicing in order to conserve energy. “I probably got it during the spring time and I still have a little bit of it. I’m still going to play, but I need to worrying about the practicing, and I’ll try to be ready for the matches.”

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Ana Ivanovic also took some time off, and emphasized switching to hard courts would not be a challenge. “It’s not such a difficult change. A lot of players take time off, which was the case with me. The hardest transition is clay to grass, so I look forward to playing on the hard courts here in the United States and Canada.”

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Romanian Simona Halep was one of the stand out players of 2014, but has found success more difficult to come by in 2015. She seemed excited to get her hard court season under way in Toronto after deciding late to enter the tournament on a wild card. “I need some matches.” However, she enjoyed her time off after Wimbledon and is looking forward to getting back on court. “It was really good. I stayed calm, all four weeks, with my family, with my friends. Now I feel good, I feel confident, and I hope to have good matches here.” “I was a little bit tired after Indian Wells and Miami.”

 

The other hot topic on the lips of reporters and players was the continued success of the world’s best player, Serena Williams. With the season’s first three grand slams in her pocket, she will look to complete what was originally known as “The Grand Slam” – winning all four majors in a calendar year.

Not even Serena Williams herself could say it would be business as usual in New York. “It definitely feels different. Winning the Serena Slam this year took some pressure off.” Even at age 33, the world number 1 has no intentions of slowing down as she enjoys one of the best years of her career. “I feel like every year that goes by I start to love the game more than I did the previous year.”

Other players were genuinely happy for the success of Williams this year. Ana Ivanovic even said she would like to see her win the US Open. “I really hope she can do it. She’s been working really hard, she’s been on top of the game so long so I think she deserves it. We’re so lucky to have someone like her in our sport, and I don’t think she gets enough credit for what she has achieved.”

Simona Halep shared her views. “For me she is the best player in the world. She has a lot of power, and also mental power. I think she can do all four, and win the US Open this year.” But when asked if it was frustrating to constantly have such a dominant player, the Romanian only laughed. “For me it is not. It’s really nice to have a player [like her]. She’s very competitive and she loves to be number one.”

Finally, Garbine Muguruza was perhaps one of the most engaging interviews on the afternoon. Now in the top 8, the Spaniard invites all the attention that comes along with reaching a grand slam final at just 21. “Obviously things are changing, media, people are looking more at what I’m doing, but I’m enjoying it. You have to be ready, you have to be more mature. The good moments go so quickly, and the bad ones are so slow.” She mentioned that she learned a lot from the Wimbledon final, but laughed when asked if she had watched any of the match again. “I just watched the two minute highlights. No more than that.”

Brodie Widdifield is the author of the tennis web site mindtheracket.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @MindTheRacket. He is covering the Rogers Cup in Toronto for Tennis Panorama News, follow @TennisNewsTPN for updates.

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