2015/04/21

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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Simona Halep Wins Dubai Tennis Championships for Second Title of the Year

Photos by Nida Alibhai

(February 21, 2015) DUBAI, UAE – Simona Halep defeated Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 7-6(4) on Saturday to win the Dubai Tennis Championships for her 10th WTA title of her career, second title of 2015 and her second Premier 5-level victory. Halep won a title in Shenzen, China in January.

Halep won the first set in 41 minutes breaking the Czech’s serve in the seventh game.

Pliskova got off to a 2-0 start in the second set, but Halep rebounded to get back on serve, then get ahead to serve for the match at 5-4. Halep failed to close out the match serving at both 5-4 and 6-5, reaching match points in both service games. The last six games in the set were breaks of serve.

“I was trying to turn it around, but even if I won the second set, I don’t know if I would have won the whole match,” Pliskova said. “It would still have been hard because she doesn’t give up on any point. She runs really, really well, and it’s hard to kill the ball against her. She really gets everything back.”

“She played very well, it’s hard to explain how I feel, it’s a big title for me,” Halep said on court.

“I knew she had a big serve, I believe I have a good return. I stayed focused on every point.”

Halep won the last four points of the tiebreak to claim the match.

“I did two double faults at 6‑5,” said Halep. “I cannot imagine how I could serve with 100 kilometers just to put the ball on court but I couldn’t. But in tiebreak I was strong and I stayed very focused and I was fighting till the end. That was the most important, I think.”

“She played very well….it’s hard to explain how I feel, it’s a big title for me,” Halep said.

“I’m very happy now, and I cannot explain words how I feel,” said Halep. “It’s just an amazing title for me. It’s very important for my career. I’m really happy, and I just want to enjoy this moment.”

“Of course I lost so I’m not really happy, but obviously I’m happy for the week and for the last two or three weeks,” said Pliskova.

For the 23-year-old Romanian, the win moves her ranking back up to No. 3 in the world. Pliskova is expected to rise to No. 12 when the rankings are released on Monday.

“At the beginning of the tournament some people asked me if I felt pressure because I was the No.1 seed,” Halep said. “I said no, because I wasn’t thinking about it, and I just wanted to go on court and play match by match, because everyone would play really well here. And I played with big players like Makarova, Pliskova, Wozniacki – she was No.1 two years. So it’s honestly just an amazing victory for me.”

The doubles title went to Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic, who beat Garbine Muguruza and Carla Suarez Navarro 6-3, 6-2. It was their fourth final together, and their first title.

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Halep and Pliskova Reach Dubai Final

Photos by Nida Alibhai

(February 20, 2015) DUBAI, UAE – Top seed Simona Halep will play Karolina Pliskova in the final of the Dubai Tennis Championships on Saturday.

Halep rebounded after dropping the opening set to defeat Caroline Wozniacki 2-6, 6-1, 6-1, while Pliskova came through an almost three hour match with a 6-4, 5-7, 7-5 win over Garbine Muguruza.

“I was trying everything,” Wozniacki said of the match. “I was just making so many errors, and I don’t really know where they came from. I think I was just tired. You know, it’s been a long week for me.””

“I started the match with a bad tactic,” Halep said. “I just wanted to hit every ball, and I did many mistakes. I couldn’t find the rhythm. So in the second set I said that I have to change it and just to play with a good length and to open the court more. I didn’t want to force too much like in first set. That worked very well for me.”

 

“It was a really long match,” said Pliskova. “There was so many close points and close games. I was losing. She had some break points in the third set, as well. There’s just few points which is deciding.”

“I think the key was her serve,” said Muguruza. “She served so good. I couldn’t break her serve. I mean, obviously when you cannot break the other one’s serve you feel a lot of pressure with your serve. But it was a very good week. I won incredible matches.”

Halep is looking to win her second title of the year, the Romanian won in Shenzen in January. Pliskova will be playing in her second final of the year, losing in the final at Sydney.

 

DUBAI DUTY FREE TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS – DUBAI, UAE
$ 2,513,000.00
15-21 FEBRUARY 2015

RESULTS – FEBRUARY 20, 2015
Women’s
Singles – Semifinals

[1] S. Halep (ROU) d [3] C. Wozniacki (DEN) 26 61 61
[17] Ka. Pliskova (CZE) d G. Muguruza (ESP) 64 57 75

Women’s
Doubles – Semifinals

[6] G Muguruza (ESP) / C Suárez Navarro (ESP) d A Kudryavtseva (RUS) / A Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 62 63
[8] T Babos (HUN) / K Mladenovic (FRA) d [7] C Garcia (FRA) / K Srebotnik (SLO) 36 61 10-5

ORDER OF PLAY – SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2015
CENTRE COURT start 5:00 pm
DOUBLES FINAL – [6] G Muguruza (ESP) / C Suárez Navarro (ESP) vs [8] T Babos (HUN) / K Mladenovic (FRA)

Not Before 7:00 pm
SINGLES FINAL – [1] S. Halep (ROU) vs [17] Ka. Pliskova (CZE)

 

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Halep and Wozniacki Reach Dubai Semifinals

Photos by Nida Alibhai

(February 19, 2015) Dubai UAETop seeded Simona Halep will play third seeded Caroline Wozniacki, and 17th seed Karolina Pliskova will play unseeded Garbine Muguruza in the semifinals of the Dubai Tennis Championships on Friday.

 

It took Halep two hours and seven minutes to beat Etkaterina Makarova 6-3, 1-6, 7-5 and avenge her defeat by in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open last month. Wozniacki withstood a competitive first set to beat Flavia Pennetta 7-5, 6-0.

 

Pliskova needed two hours 26 minutes to rally past Lucie Safarova 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-1 and Muguruza took two hours 19 minutes to overcome Carla Suarez Navarro 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-3.

 

Halep failed to serve out the match at 5-3 and then needing five match points to clinch the win.

 

“I didn’t believe in my serve at that moment, and I just tried to finish very quickly and wasn’t good idea,” said Halep. “I was very nervous, and I wanted just to hit winners. It’s not possible at this level, and she’s a good player. I’m really happy that I could finish in the right way and to win, because it was a tough match.”

 

Wozniacki has been struggling with a sore throat this week.

 

“I knew that when I’m out there I need to focus 100% on each point,” said Wozniacki. “I can’t just give loose ones away, because that means longer time on court which means I have less of a chance of winning, so especially like now. I think that’s definitely helped me focus.”

 

Pliskova’s win was her second in two weeks over Safarova after she also won their quarter-final match in Antwerp, but she had to work hard to gain an advantage.

 

“I would say that she deserved to win as well. I’m a little bit sorry for her,” said Pliskova, “I called coach and he really helped me, and that’s probably the main thing why I won the second set, and then why I won the third set as well.”

 

Muguruza beat her friend, doubles partner and fellow Spaniard Suarez Navarro.

 

“I was sad because I lost the first set, but I said, ‘If I want to win this match I cannot play bad the second set’,” said Muguruza. “My only chance is to win the second set and try to have chances to win the match. So I said, Okay, the second set I’m going to give it all, and if I win I will have options to win the match.”

 

DUBAI DUTY FREE TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS – DUBAI, UAE
$ 2,513,000.00
15-21 FEBRUARY 2015

RESULTS – FEBRUARY 19, 2015
Women’s
Singles – Quarterfinals

[1] S. Halep (ROU) d [6] E. Makarova (RUS) 63 16 75
[3] C. Wozniacki (DEN) d [10] [WC] F. Pennetta (ITA) 75 60
[17] K. Pliskova (CZE) d [11] L. Safarova (CZE) 36 76(5) 61
G. Muguruza (ESP) d [13] C. Suárez Navarro (ESP) 67(4) 63 63

Women’s
Doubles – Quarterfinals

[7] C Garcia (FRA) / K Srebotnik (SLO) d [2] E Makarova (RUS) / E Vesnina (RUS) 75 62
[6] G Muguruza (ESP) / C Suárez Navarro (ESP) d A Rodionova (AUS) / A Rodionova (AUS) 75 64
[8] T Babos (HUN) / K Mladenovic (FRA) d M Niculescu (ROU) / A Panova (RUS) 76(6) 64
A Kudryavtseva (RUS) / A Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) d J Goerges (GER) / A Groenefeld (GER) 75 76(1)

ORDER OF PLAY – FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2015
CENTRE COURT start 2:00 pm
[8] T Babos (HUN) / K Mladenovic (FRA) vs [7] C Garcia (FRA) / K Srebotnik (SLO)

Not Before 5:00 pm
[17] K. Pliskova (CZE) vs G. Muguruza (ESP)

Not Before 7:00 pm
[1] S. Halep (ROU) vs [3] C. Wozniacki (DEN)
A Kudryavtseva (RUS) / A Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) vs [6] G Muguruza (ESP) / C Suárez Navarro (ESP)

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Maria Sharapova to Play Ekaterina Makarova in Australian Open Semis

Makarova

Makarova

(January 27, 2015) It will be an all-Russian semifinal in the bottom half of the women’s draw at the Australian Open. 2008 champion Maria Sharapova and No. 10 seed Ekaterina Makarova advanced in Melbourne with easy victories on Tuesday.

No. 2 Sharapova took down 20-year-old Canadian Eugenie Bouchard 6-3, 6-2 to keep her record perfect against the world No. 7 at 4-0. Earlier in the day Ekaterina Makarova upset No. 3 Simona Halep 6-4, 6-0 in 69 minutes.

“I had to produce a really good performance against Genie,” Sharapova said after the match. “She’s been playing so confidently and aggressively.”

Sharapova rallied past Bouchard the last time they played each other, in the semifinals of the French Open where the Russian went on to win her second Roland Garros title, her fifth major.

“I felt under pressure the whole time, a bit on my back foot,” Bouchard said. I mean, that’s not how I want to play. I feel like I didn’t start well, and it kind of all went downhill from there. It’s definitely easier when you have a good start to the match.”

“I’m never happy with losing. I wanted to obviously win today, win the tournament. But, you know, I feel like I dealt with, yeah, pressure, outside expectations well. I wasn’t really focused on the whole defending thing. I really just tried to block that out of my mind. So I think, you know, that helped me get through the first week, get through some, you know, matches that could have been tricky. But, yeah, you know, I always want to do better, especially than the year before. I’m always trying to aim for that.”

“I knew I had to play a really complete match,” Sharapova said. “She’s someone who really goes after it and goes after her strokes, so I knew that the second and third balls would be really important. I knew I had to take time away from her and be aggressive – I wanted to get in the rallies a little bit, but I also wanted to something on my own first few shots today.”

“I felt pretty good from the start,” said the Russian. “I thought I had a really good start. I kept my focus throughout the whole match. I didn’t feel that I had too many letdowns, which is important. When I did have a few slips I was able to come out with great first serves or really powerful returns. But overall really happy with the way the match went.”

Bouchard hit 30 unforced errors to Sharapova’s 18.

For Makarova, this marks her second straight major semifinal having reached the semifinals of the 2014 US Open.

“I was just I was a little bit stressed, I don’t know why,” last year’s French Open finalist Halep said of her loss. “I had experience from last year to play quarterfinals, so it doesn’t mean that I felt pressure. I just I didn’t feel the game, the ball. It was a very bad day for me.”

“I practiced very well in the morning, but maybe I was a little bit too stressed before I started the match. Wasn’t my good day. I had a bad day. But she played well and everything was in for her. So she deserves this winning. I’m really sad a little bit now that I could not play my tennis, my game, but that’s tennis and I have to look forward to the next tournament.”

“I have experience. I had experience to play quarterfinals in Grand Slams. But sometimes you cannot manage the situation. I tried. I did everything I could this match. But, you know, just mentally because during the points maybe I didn’t fight very well today. I just lost my concentrate to win the points, to win the match. So I didn’t believe any more in second set, and that’s maybe why I lost 6-0.”

Makarova talked about her strategy in the match; “I just tried to stay solid and to play my game. She’s a tough opponent, and I lost to her already two years ago. She doesn’t miss a lot, so every point we had really tough one and really long one. I tried to be more aggressive more to win this point because she never miss and she never give up. So I tried to stay solid and to keep my game.”

“I was playing my good tennis, so maybe in the second set she was a little bit upset. She, like, didn’t understand what to do. But she’s a great player. She had a great season last year. She always like sometimes can turn around the game, doesn’t matter what’s the score, so I was so concentrate.”

Makarova goes into the semifinal against Sharapova with and 0-5 record, having never won a set.

“Well, I never beat her,” said the 26-year-old on playing Sharapova, “so it will be tough. Definitely she’s a great fighter. Like here on the second round, she almost lost, but she turned around. I’m looking forward. I’m want to enjoy this time and want to rest and we’ll see what happen in semis.”

“She likes playing here,” Sharapova said of next opponent. “She uses that left-handed serve really well. It’s always tricky playing a lefty and your compatriot, as well, but one of us will be in the final and that makes me happy.”

“Well, besides playing another Russian, I’m also facing an opponent that wasn’t necessarily a favorite coming into that stage,” Sharapova said. “That’s always a tricky situation because she’s going to come into that match free and almost happy to be in that situation, and that’s dangerous. You know, I haven’t faced a lefty in this tournament yet. She’s been using her lefty serve extremely well from what I’ve seen. But, yeah, I’ll be looking out for that, work on a few things tomorrow, and be ready for that match.”

“I’m so comfortable here, it’s all the atmosphere and maybe memories from New York that I bring here,” said Makarova.

 

AUSTRALIAN – MELBOURNE, AUS
$15,561,973
19-31 JANUARY, 2015

Results – Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Singles – Quarterfinals
(2) Maria Sharapova (RUS) d. (7) Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) 63 62
(10) Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) d. (3) Simona Halep (ROU) 64 60

Doubles – Quarterfinals
Mattek-Sands/Safarova (USA/CZE) d. (3) Makarova/Vesnina (RUS/RUS) 76(5) 46 62
(13) Krajicek/Zahlavova Strycova (NED/CZE) d. (5) Kops-Jones/Spears (USA/USA) 36 63 76(3)
(14) Chan/Zheng (TPE/CHN) d. Jans-Ignacik/Klepac (POL/SLO) 61 62
(16) Goerges/Groenefeld (GER/GER) d. Bertens/Larsson (NED/SWE) 62 75

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Roger Federer Upset in Third Round of Australian Open

(January 23, 2015) In the biggest upset of the tournament so far, No. 2 seed Roger Federer was knocked out of the Australian by world No. 46 Andreas Seppi of Italy 6-4, 7-6 (5), 6-4, 7-6 (5) in the third round on Friday.

“I just tried to enjoy to play on the center court again, so I just tried to do my best,” Seppi said in a post-match on-court interview on ESPN Televison. “It was one of my best matches for sure, or else I couldn’t win against Roger. It was fun to play in front of a full stadium.”

The loss for Federer ends an 11-year run of at least reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open.

Coming into the match, Seppi was 0-10 against the world No. 2, winning only one set.

Seppi’s win breaks a 23-match losing streak against the Top 10.

Federer won 145 points to Seppi’s 144. Federer served at 59% for first serves with 15 aces and 9 double-faults. He hit 57 winner to 55 unforced errors. Seppi had 50 winner to 40 unforced errors.

Federer had his chances. In the second set tie-breaker, the 33-year-old Swiss could not hold onto a 4-1 lead. Seppi won six out of the next seven points.

Federer was also up 3-1 in the fourth set tiebreak and could not hold the advantage.

The 17-time major champion had won his last 41 third round Grand Slam matches, is now 51-4 overall in third round of majors.

“You never feel comfortable playing against Roger, but I was focusing on my service game, I didn’t have many chances on his serve,”  Seppi said.

“Just a bad day, yeah,” Federer said in his post-match news conference.  “I mean, I wish I could have played better, but clearly it was tough losing the first two, you know. Had chances to get back into it. I let it slip, I mean, both times in some ways. I guess I won the wrong points out there today. I knew how important that second set tiebreaker was, so clearly that hurt, losing that one. The end wasn’t pretty, you know. It wasn’t easy to play with the shadow. But it was the same for both of us. Just a disappointing loss, you know.”

“I guess it was just an overall feeling I had today out on the court that I couldn’t, you know, really get the whole game flowing. You know, was it backhand? Was it forehand? Was it serve? It was a bit of everything. At the same time, I think I got broken in the last couple of sets. The second set also I only got broken once. I was hanging in there. Gee, what did I have, 4-1 in the breaker, 3-1 in the breaker? I don’t remember what it was. I hit a pretty good serve that I shouldn’t — downwind I should never lose that point. So it wasn’t all bad. It’s just when it counted the most somehow it just ended up going his way. I think that was because overall I wasn’t feeling it quite as well. I had to play it a little bit passively at times when normally I would play aggressive. You know, it was just a tough match for me.”

This is the earliest exit for Federer  at a major since Wimbledon in 2013, when he fell to Sergiy Stakhovsky in the second round.

“You know, to beat Roger first time, especially in a Grand Slam, best-of-five, is a special moment for me,” Seppi said. “Of course at the beginning I just went on the court to enjoy the match and to play my best tennis. Yeah, but especially after the first set, then I felt, you know, I am there, I am hitting the ball very well. I start to believe that I can do more. Yeah, then I think very important was the second set tiebreak. And, yeah, it worked out pretty well.”

“I had to believe that I could win,” said Seppi.

“It’s first time I beat him. I beat once Nadal in Rotterdam when he was 2 in the world. Was also a big win. Against Roger, you know, I never went close. I never had the chance. To have this win in my career, it’s for sure something big.”

Seppi will face young Australian Nick Kyrgios in the fourth round.

 

No. 3 seed Rafael Nadal had easy time with Dudi Sela 6-1, 6-0, 7-5 and will face Kevin Anderson in the round of 16.

Andy Murray defeated Portugal’s Joao Sousa 6-1, 6-1, 7-5 to reach the fourth round. Tomas Berdych was the first man to book a place in the fourth round when he defeated Viktor Troicki 6-4, 6-3, 6-4.

Another young Australian is also in the fourth round. Bernard Tomic will play Berdych.

No. 10 Grigor Dimitrov won five-set battle against 2006 Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis 4-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3. He will face Andy Murry next.

“Thought Marcos was playing dominating tennis early on in the match,” said Dimitrov. “I wasn’t really able to turn things around as fast as I wanted to. I felt quite good physically, which was I think the best sign for me today. I’m not going to hide my excitement of winning the match because it meant a lot to me. To be able to play three and a half hours and win 6-3 in the fifth and feelin really good after the match physically, that says a lot for me. Just getting ready for the next one.”
On the women’s side,No. 2 seed Maria Sharapova moved into the fourth round with a 6-1, 6-1 dismissal of Zarina Diyas.

Third seed Simona Halep moved into the fourth round of the Australian Open with a 6-4, 7-5 win on Friday over Bethanie Mattek-Sands.

“Here I started last year to play my best tennis. I (reached) my first quarterfinal in Grand Slams then I made final in French Open,” said Halep. “I have more confidence now during Grand Slams and I believe I have my chance at every tournament.”

The 2014 French Open finalist will play Yanina Wickmayer next, who beat 14th seed Sara Errani.

No. 7 seed and a Melbourne semifinalist last year, Canadian Eugenie Bouchard eked out a tough first set before breaking away to win 7-5, 6-0 over Carolina Garcia to reach the round of 16.

“Yeah, I don’t think it was the prettiest tennis out there,” said the 20-year-old.

“I wasn’t playing great tennis in the first. I feel like she was putting some pressure on me and I really didn’t feel like I got a rhythm. But I’m happy that I just kept going. Even if it wasn’t going so well, I was able to turn it around.”
Other seeded women advancing to the fourth round included No. 10 Ekaterina Makarova and No. 21 Peng Shuai.

More to follow….

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Halep Advances, Gajdosova Breaks Losing Streak at Home Major

(January 19, 2015) No. 3 seed Simona Halep began her Australian Open with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Karin Knapp in the first round of the Australian Open on Monday.

Halep withdrew from last week’s tournament in Sydney due to a stomach illness. She showed no signs of illness but she had to rebound from a 0-2 start in the match.

The 23-year-old Romanian, who began the year in China by winning the Shenzen is defending quarterfinalist points from last year’s Australian Open   She lost to losing finalist Dominika Cibulkova.

“I started well in Shenzhen and won the tournament there but the first Slam is different and there`s much pressure here and I feel that,” she said.

“But I feel good and I`m sure I`ll have the chance to win many more matches.”

She hit 15 winners in the match.

“It was a tough match for me and I was very nervous before the match but I`m very happy now and I`m sure that next time I`ll play better,” Halep said after the match.

Halep’s next opponent will be world No. 62 Jarmila Gajdosova who broke a 0-9 record at her home major moving past Romanian Alexandra Dulgheru 6-3, 6-4 in 88 minutes on Margaret Court Arena.

Asked if she thought the day would ever come that she’s wina match in Melbourne, she said: “If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be playing, would I? Yeah, I thought it would, I thought I been playing well, so one of these years it had to come. As I said on the court, I guess I was fortunate for the first time I actually had a draw that I didn’t have a seed in the first round. As much as it was difficult match and every match is hard to win, doesn’t matter if there is a seed or not, at least I had a big opportunity to get through. As I say, it was my ten-year anniversary, so there was going to be celebration or one for the sadness. I’m glad it’s a celebration.”

“I was talking to my coach and I told him I actually did feel like I won Australian Open. It was just first round. It’s been such a long time coming. Not to be able to do it in your home Grand Slam was very devastating for me. I was very happy and relieved that I got this monkey off my back. I do love playing in Australia and I played well the last couple weeks. Mixed here, made semis in doubles, won Hobart, made quarters in Brisbane. So I play well here and I can play well here. I definitely enjoy it. I’m just very happy that one tournament in my whole career I couldn’t break I finally did. Whatever is going to happen from now on I’m just going to enjoy it and play the best I can.”

More to follow.

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