July 26, 2016

Simona Halep Says She Will Not Participate in Rio Games Due to Concerns About Zika

Simona Halep

Simona Halep

(July 15, 2016) Simona Halep announced on her Facebook page that she will not be participating in the Rio Olympic Games.

https://www.facebook.com/simonahalep/posts/1149770261750234

 

I regret to announce that I have decided I will not compete in the Olympic Games taking place this summer in Rio. The reason for my decision is the concern regarding the danger posed by the Zika virus.
After several talks with doctors and my family, i concluded that the risks are too high for my career and for my health, especially as a woman. Family is much too important for me and I can’t risk not being able to have one of my own after my career in tennis is over.
I know the Olympics are a very important event and I truly regret these circumstances. I hope the Romanian Olympic and Sports Committee and all Romanians will respect my decision. I wish all the participants, especially our delegation, the best of luck!
I will continue to play, to proudly represent Romania in as many tournaments as possible, as I am doing right now at the BRD Bucharest Open.

Share

On the Purple Carpet – Fashion Shines at WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 23:  Caroline Wozniacki attends the annual WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party presented by Dubai Duty Free at the Kensington Roof Gardens on June 23, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images for WTA Tour)

LONDON, ENGLAND – JUNE 23: Caroline Wozniacki attends the annual WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party presented by Dubai Duty Free at the Kensington Roof Gardens on June 23, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images for WTA Tour)

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 23:  Garbine Muguruza attends the annual WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party presented by Dubai Duty Free at the Kensington Roof Gardens on June 23, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images for WTA Tour)

LONDON, ENGLAND – JUNE 23: Garbine Muguruza attends the annual WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party presented by Dubai Duty Free at the Kensington Roof Gardens on June 23, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images for WTA Tour)

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 23:  Bethanie Mattek-Sands attends the annual WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party presented by Dubai Duty Free at the Kensington Roof Gardens on June 23, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images for WTA Tour)

LONDON, ENGLAND – JUNE 23: Bethanie Mattek-Sands attends the annual WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party presented by Dubai Duty Free at the Kensington Roof Gardens on June 23, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images for WTA Tour)

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 23:  Ana Ivanovic attends the annual WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party presented by Dubai Duty Free at the Kensington Roof Gardens on June 23, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images for WTA Tour)

LONDON, ENGLAND – JUNE 23: Ana Ivanovic attends the annual WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party presented by Dubai Duty Free at the Kensington Roof Gardens on June 23, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images for WTA Tour)

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 23:  Madison Keys attends the annual WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party presented by Dubai Duty Free at the Kensington Roof Gardens on June 23, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images for WTA Tour)

LONDON, ENGLAND – JUNE 23: Madison Keys attends the annual WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party presented by Dubai Duty Free at the Kensington Roof Gardens on June 23, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images for WTA Tour)

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 23:  Laura Robson attends the annual WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party presented by Dubai Duty Free at the Kensington Roof Gardens on June 23, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images for WTA Tour)

LONDON, ENGLAND – JUNE 23: Laura Robson attends the annual WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party presented by Dubai Duty Free at the Kensington Roof Gardens on June 23, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images for WTA Tour)

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 23:  Simona Halep attends the annual WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party presented by Dubai Duty Free at the Kensington Roof Gardens on June 23, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images for WTA Tour)

LONDON, ENGLAND – JUNE 23: Simona Halep attends the annual WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party presented by Dubai Duty Free at the Kensington Roof Gardens on June 23, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images for WTA Tour)

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 23:  Sloane Stephens attends the annual WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party presented by Dubai Duty Free at the Kensington Roof Gardens on June 23, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images for WTA Tour)

LONDON, ENGLAND – JUNE 23: Sloane Stephens attends the annual WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party presented by Dubai Duty Free at the Kensington Roof Gardens on June 23, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images for WTA Tour)

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 23:  Petra Kvitova attends the annual WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party presented by Dubai Duty Free at the Kensington Roof Gardens on June 23, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images for WTA Tour)

LONDON, ENGLAND – JUNE 23: Petra Kvitova attends the annual WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party presented by Dubai Duty Free at the Kensington Roof Gardens on June 23, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images for WTA Tour)

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 23:  Heather Watson attends the annual WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party presented by Dubai Duty Free at the Kensington Roof Gardens on June 23, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images for WTA Tour)

LONDON, ENGLAND – JUNE 23: Heather Watson attends the annual WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party presented by Dubai Duty Free at the Kensington Roof Gardens on June 23, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images for WTA Tour)

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 23:  Sorana Cirstea attends the annual WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party presented by Dubai Duty Free at the Kensington Roof Gardens on June 23, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images for WTA Tour)

LONDON, ENGLAND – JUNE 23: Sorana Cirstea attends the annual WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party presented by Dubai Duty Free at the Kensington Roof Gardens on June 23, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images for WTA Tour)

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 23:  Serena Williams attends the annual WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party presented by Dubai Duty Free at the Kensington Roof Gardens on June 23, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images for WTA Tour)

LONDON, ENGLAND – JUNE 23: Serena Williams attends the annual WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party presented by Dubai Duty Free at the Kensington Roof Gardens on June 23, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images for WTA Tour)

 

(June 23, 2016) Tennis superstars and celebrities from the worlds of sport, lifestyle and culture came together at The Roof Gardens, Kensington for one of the most anticipated parties of the summer: the WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party presented by Dubai Duty Free.

Serena Williams, Caroline Wozniacki, Ana Ivanovic, Eugenie Bouchard and more walked the “Purple Carpet” in London ahead of The Championships, Wimbledon.

Share

Halep wins Madrid Open; Murray Beats Nadal and Will Meet Djokovic in the Final

Simona Halep

Simona Halep

(May 7, 2016) Calling her win “the best day in my life,” Romania’s Simona Halep won her second career WTA Premier Mandatory event when she beat Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova 6-2, 6-4 to claim the Madrid Open title.

“I saw always that it’s a special tournament because of Mr. (Ion) Tiriac, because of many Romanians that are coming here. I feel like home,” Halep said. Tiriac, also a Romanian, is a member of the tennis Hall of Fame is the Tournament Director of Madrid and gave Halep a wildcard into the tournament three years ago.

The victory for Halep marks her 12th career WTA tournament title. She will now move up to No. 5 in the rankings. Cibulkova will rise to No. 26.

Kei Nishikori and Novak Djokovic at GR8 Fundraiser in Miami in 2011

Kei Nishikori and Novak Djokovic at GR8 Fundraiser in Miami in 2011

Novak Djokovic will meet defending champion Andy Murray in the Madrid Open final on Sunday. No. 2 Murray saved 11 break points in holding off four-time Madrid winner No. 5 Rafael Nadal 7-5, 6-4, snapping the Spaniard’s 13-match winning streak. Murray beat Nadal in last year’s Madrid final.

“Not loads of players have won against Rafa on clay throughout his career,” Murray said. “To beat him in Spain on a clay court is obviously a big, big challenge for any player. Very pleased to have beaten him this year.”

“Murray was not unbeatable today,” Nadal said in press. “It was an open match, an even match,”

“I didn’t play my best level, but I didn’t play badly. I played a medium level, which was not enough to beat Murray.”

Djokovic beat Kei Nishikori 6-3, 7-6(4) in the other men’s semifinal. The Serbian had some trouble serving out the match leading 6-4, 5-4 40-0. The man from Japan came back and held off four match points against him to even the set at 5-5. Both men held and went to a tiebreak, which Djokovic won 7-3.

“It wasn’t easy to play in these very windy conditions, but overall I’m very pleased,” Djokovic said.”

Going into the final Djokovic leads Murray 22-9, winning 11 of the last 12 matches, winning all four matches on clay. Murray needs to win on Sunday to keep his No. 2 ranking ahead of the French Open or Roger Federer will move up to the second spot.

Share

Djokovic Advances, Bacsinszky Surprises Halep at Miami Open

(March 29, 2016) In a match closer that the score indicated, Novak Djokovic advanced to the Miami Open quarterfinals on Tuesday with a 6-3, 6-4 win over 14th seed Dominic Thiem of Austria.

Djokovic who is now 25-1 on the year is seeking his fifth Miami title in six years and three in a row.

The Serb fought off a game youngster in Thiem, fighting off 14 of 15 break points.

“He came out with a good game plan,” Djokovic said. “He’s young. He had not much to lose. He was confident obviously winning a lot of matches this year. He was motivated to win. I could see that. It was a straight-set win, but far from easy. It was a tough match.”

“It is exciting, because tennis definitely needs the next generation of young players who are playing the way Dominic does and challenging the best players in the world,” Djokovic continued.

“It’s normal evolution in life that sooner or later we’ll — the time will come for all of us, and we need some new faces and players that are able to follow and lead the tennis world in the future.

“So Dominic is one of the leaders of this generation, no question doubt about it. He’s already established himself as a top 20 player last couple years. He’s getting stronger and more confident.

“It’s a process for every young player to really develop and understand what it takes mentally, physically, emotionally, to get to the top of the world and win major titles. It’s a long road ahead for him and for everybody else, but definitely they are on the right track.”

In the final eight Djokovic will play No. 7 seed Tomas Berdych who beat 10th seed Richard Gasquet 6-4, 3-6, 7-5.

 

The women’s upsets continued at the Miami Open on Tuesday when No. 5 seed Romanian Simona Halep lost to No. 19 seed Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the quarterfinals.

The Swiss player backed up her defeat of the No. 3 seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the fourth round for her second straight win over top five players.

It marked the first time that Bacsinszky had even taken a set off of Halep.

For the Swiss, it’s been five years since she last made an appearance at Key Biscayne and this year, making the semifinals is by far the longest run she’s made in the tournament.

After Halep took a tight first set, Bacsinszky jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the second set to take control. The Swiss notched two breaks early in the third set to go up 3-0 and never had to look back.

After her first service break in the second set, rain halted play for 10 minutes.

Between Bacsinszky’s effective use of the slice, movement and varied game, put her opponent off guard throughout most of the almost two-and-a-half-hour match.

“Well, in the second set I think I was pushing her to play long rallies,” she said. “I was like probably trying to hide where I was playing; then she was like — she couldn’t be able to guess if it was on the backhand or the forehand.

“Well, even though I felt that she raised her level and her intensity at the end the second set, I stayed — I’m happy that I stayed really strong. I felt that she was like going up, pushing, pushing, but I showed that, Okay, I’m here. I know you’re pushing, but I can keep the level.

“Then it helped me a lot for the third set. I raised then probably my intensity at the beginning of the third set and it made a big gap between us.”

With Halep out, the only top ten seed left in the women’s draw is No. 2 Angelique Kerber.

“The ranking is only a number,” said the Swiss in reference to beating two top five players, “so sometimes you can play very good, better than your ranking, and sometimes less good than your ranking is.

“So for the next match, I mean, obviously for sure it gives me a big confidence to have those two wins, but it doesn’t change that I’m going to have a fierce opponent and it’s going to be tough.

“I just hope I’m going to be able to play well — I mean, not especially well, but be efficient in the next match. Hopefully I win the last point. If not, then it’s okay. I’ll try for the next tournament.”

 

Bascinszky will next play Russian No. 15 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova for a place in the finals.  In a topsy-turvy match, Kuznetsova defeated Ekaterina Makarova 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-4 to reach the semifinals.

In the first set Kuznetsova lead 5-2, 40-0 and also served for the set at 5-4 but could not close the set when errors crept into her game, especially on her powerful forehand side. Makarova took advantage and won the set in a tiebreak 7-6(3).

Kuznetsova was broken serving for the second set at 5-3, but broke Makarova right back for the third break in the set to even the match at one-set all.

The two-time major winner started off the third set, digging out of a break point to hold then break for a 2-0 lead. Makarova got the break back in the seventh game drawing closer to her countrywoman at 3-4. Kuznetsova battles for the break back and served for the match at 5-3. This time the 15th seed held to close out the match in two-hours and forty-five minutes.

For Kuznetsova, who won the Miami Open in 2006, this will be her first trip to the semifinals since 2009.

Only one of the top 12 seeds remain on the women’s side of the draw and that’s No. Angelique Kerber.

MIAMI OPEN PRESENTED BY ITAU – MIAMI, UNITED STATES
21 MARCH – 3 APRIL, 2016

RESULTS – MARCH 29, 2016
Women’s
Singles – Quarterfinals

[19] T. Bacsinszky (SUI) d [5] S. Halep (ROU) 46 63 62
[15] S. Kuznetsova (RUS) d [30] E. Makarova (RUS) 67(3) 64 63

Women’s
Doubles – Quarterfinals

M. Gasparyan (RUS) / M. Niculescu (ROU) d V. King (USA) / A. Kudryavtseva (RUS) 63 76(3)
Second Round
[4] T. Babos (HUN) / Y. Shvedova (KAZ) d C. Dellacqua (AUS) / S. Stosur (AUS) 75 64

ORDER OF PLAY – WEDNESDAY, MARCH 30, 2016
STADIUM start 10:45 am
WTA – [5] A. Hlavackova (CZE) / L. Hradecka (CZE) vs [3] B. Mattek-Sands (USA) / L. Safarova (CZE)

Not Before 1:00 pm
WTA – [24] J. Konta (GBR) vs [13] V. Azarenka (BLR)

Not Before 3:00 pm
ATP – [15] D. Goffin (BEL) vs [18] G. Simon (FRA)
ATP-Possible Court Change – [4] B. Bryan (USA) / M. Bryan (USA) vs [WC] O. Jasika (AUS) / J. Smith (AUS)

Not Before 7:00 pm
WTA – [22] M. Keys (USA) vs [2] A. Kerber (GER)

Not Before 9:00 pm
ATP – [1] N. Djokovic (SRB) vs [7] T. Berdych (CZE)

GRANDSTAND start 11:00 am
WTA – [4] T. Babos (HUN) / Y. Shvedova (KAZ) vs K. Bondarenko (UKR) / O. Savchuk (UKR)

Not Before 1:00 pm
ATP – J. Chardy (FRA) / F. Martin (FRA) vs [5] P. Herbert (FRA) / N. Mahut (FRA)
ATP – J. Isner (USA) / N. Monroe (USA) vs T. Huey (PHI) / M. Mirnyi (BLR)

Not Before 6:00 pm
ATP – P. Petzschner (GER) / A. Peya (AUT) vs R. Klaasen (RSA) / R. Ram (USA)

COURT 1 start 4:00 pm
WTA – [8] Y. Xu (CHN) / S. Zheng (CHN) vs E. Makarova (RUS) / B. Strycova (CZE)

Share

Qualifier Zhang’s Run Continues into Fourth Round of the Australian Open

(January 23, 2016) Before this fortnight, Chinese qualifier Zhang Shuai had no match wins in Grand Slam tournaments. She now has three. Zhang, who shocked No. 2 seed Simona Halep in the first round continued her run at the Australian Open, defeating American Varvara Lepchenko 6-1, 6-3 to reach the round of 16.

She hit 27 winners against the American and made 86 percent of her first serves.

Zhang, who thought about retirement when her ranking plummeted to 200 in the world, brought her parents to Melbourne, thinking that it might be her last tournament.

The world No. 133 now has wins over No. 2 Halep, No. 33 Alize Cornet and now No. 51 Lepchenko. She came into the Australian Open 0-14 in Grand Slam matches. She has not dropped a set yet.

Zhang will get a big challenge from her next opponent No. 15 seed Madison Keys who rallied past Ana Ivanovic 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.

“I can’t think too much,” said Zhang.

“I just only keep seeing the next point, because I’ve never been in the third round.”

Keys said via statement: “Zhang, we’re so happy for her now. She’s won not only one, but two main draw matches. That’s great for her. I haven’t played her since three, four years now. Obviously she’s playing well if she’s had the upsets that she’s had, so either match will be tough.”

 

Qualifier Zhang Shuai Topples Second Seed Simona Halep at Australian Open

Share

Qualifier Zhang Shuai Topples Second Seed Simona Halep at Australian Open

(January 19, 2016) Another seed fell on the women’s side of the draw on Tuesday – second seed Simona Halep lost to Chinese qualifier Zhang Shuai 6-4, 6-3 in just over an hour. The 133rd ranked Zhang’s victory was her first main-draw win at any major tournament. She was 0-14 coming into Melbourne.

After the match a tearful Zhang was happy with the win ending her losing streak at Grand Slam events. “I think in my life, it’s the best tennis,” she said. “To win against a top-two player, I’m so happy, so excited.”

Zhang bested Halep with power hitting 31 winners past the Romanian.

“She had confidence,” Halep said. “She had three matches here already in the quallies. Yeah, she didn’t have fear. She hit all the balls. I think she played much better than Indian Wells few years ago, but I think I let her play her best tennis. I didn’t hit very strong and I didn’t hit with good strength.”

“I think wasn’t my good day, but I give her a lot of credit because I think she played really well. She played without fear and she hit every ball,” Halep said to media.

“So she had good rhythm. Yeah, I think I played a little bit too short in the first set. Then she was dominating me because she felt the ball really well.

“Then I tried to change. I tried to stay there. But, yeah, at 3-1 I had the chance to go three the set, the second set, but didn’t happen.

“So, yeah, she beat me. Yeah, she was better today. It’s tough. I’m really disappointed. But it’s only one day, only one match. Tomorrow, it’s a new day. I have to look forward and to stay motivated. I have many matches in forward.”

“I play really well today,” Zhang said. “Play against the great player. I feeling no more nervous, you know, because nothing to lose. So play like hundred percent good.”

Zhang’s parents traveled with her to Melbourne to watch her play, just a few months ago, she considered retiring and making the Australian Open her last tournament.

“Okay, retire, no problem, nobody said, No. But I’m feeling no, I want come back. I want try one more time, only one more time, yeah. If no good, I say, Okay, I will try last tournament Australia Open. If Australia Open not good, maybe finish tennis.

“But I never think I can win in the here, win the first round.”

“Before, my father never come to watch I play, she said. “This is first time he travel with me. And also my mom. So this is big-time for me. Because I think, Oh, maybe this is last time in Australia Open, so I wanted they coming to maybe see last match in Melbourne.

“I want they come to see the last 20 years what I’m do. This is my life already like 20 years. They never see. So I want they feeling what I’m do. So, yeah, this is so lucky my parents coming and I win.”

Halep has now lost in the first round at the Australian Open three times in the past five years.

Earlier in the day, eighth seed Venus Williams also lost in the first round.

Johanna Konta Upsets No. 8 Venus Williams in First Round of the Australian Open

 

Share

Pennetta Loses Her Final Match to Sharapova, While Radwanska Dashes Halep’s Semifinal Hopes at WTA Finals

Radwanska bh

Agnieszka Radwanska

By Ros Satar

(October 29, 2015) SINGAPORE – After the general speculation that swirls around once the Round Robin scenarios start doing the rounds, comes the nail-biting action, and the Red Group kicked all that off in fine style on day five of the WTA Finals in Singapore.

 

Of all the players that came to Singapore at the end of last week, it was maybe Agnieszka Radwanska who looked to be in the best form. She had a solid Asian swing with just a blip in Wuhan and was looking to finish the year strong.

 

She was up against Simona Halep who was coming off the back of an injury but seemed to be up for the challenge, starting with a confident win, but seemingly coming unraveled yet again at the hands of Maria Sharapova.

 

Starting with a break, against Radwanska who had looked somewhat lacklustre against Flavia Pennetta, it looked as though the Pole was going to be starting her holidays early with a 0-3 record. But gradually those trademark Ninja skills came into play, and with some breathtakingly bold shots out of necessity to keep the ball in play, she struck back.

 

 

As Radwanska hung on to force a first set tie-breaker, sure enough Halep pushed and hustled her way to a 5-1 lead, but credit to Radwanska she kept plugging away, catching up to Halep, and pushing past her for a set point. In the rally of the tournament, she won surely the point of the tournament to take the set, winning the next six points in a row.

 

Momentum is everything and although Halep came through a tough hold, saving a break point along the way in the first game of the second set, that was the last show of resistance as Radwanska bulldozed past her to give herself a slim chance of making the semifinals with a 1-2 record.

 

After failing to maybe deliver throughout the clay court season, Halep still finishes high in the rankings with some good titles behind her, so all in all – a good performance?

 

She said: “I think I had a good year this year. Ups and downs, but it was okay. I will finish No. 2 or No. 3 in the world so it’s pretty good for me. It’s second year in a row.

 

“I want to get better for the next year. I have many things to improve. I have to run a little bit more because I need. Today I couldn’t breathe anymore in the second set. But it’s normal. I have to be healthy first and then to train hard. I really want to get better; I want to do better next year.”

 

For Radwanska, her hopes were alive albeit in the hands of Sharapova, as she described her comeback to win 7-6(5), 6-1.

 

She said: “That definitely was a crazy set. Up and downs pretty much whole set. Every point matters in that case. Well, the tiebreak I didn’t really know that I could come back, and suddenly ‑‑ I think I was really relaxed. I didn’t get tight and I think I made really good shot in important moments. When was just 5‑1 down I think I just kind of play aggressive tennis and that works.

 

“What I can do right now is just watch and cheer for Maria. So that’s it. (Laughter.)”

 

It was certainly going to be all eyes on Sharapova, but also on Pennetta, who was potentially in her last match, unless she could take at least a set off the former champion.

 

For a time it looked like we would see just that – Pennetta started with a break and stayed steady until around the middle of the set, when Sharapova kicked up a notch to get the break back.

 

Many had thought she could take a set off Sharapova, having won the last three matches over her including at Indian Wells this year. But once more when the momentum was with Sharapova, she was not going to relinquish it in a hurry as she quickly dominated the second set, winning 7-5, 6-1.

 

As the sun set on Pennetta’s career, it was a quick exit as she declined an on court ceremony after a hug at the net with Sharapova, who finishes top of the group with Radwanska second.

 

Pennetta explained her rapid departure: “I’m happy to have the chance to play this tournament. I think to have the last match against Maria was amazing play such a good champion. Was a good way also to say good‑bye, because when you lose against such a good player there is not too many things to say.

 

“I don’t want any drama. I don’t like drama. I wasn’t able to do that, so I prefer maybe to do it in few months. I don’t know, maybe in Rome or wherever. But in that time ‑‑ I don’t like drama and I don’t like to cry, and I know if I was there I will cry. So why? No. (Laughter.)”

 

Pennetta spoke about what she’ll miss about playing the tour: “I think I will miss the players in a way it’s like a family. But I cannot tell you what I going to miss more than that.  I think also I will miss the competition.  When you go on the court, the central court, it’s something special.  I don’t think I will have it anymore. But in the other way, I am really happy to start a new part of life, new things.”

 

Sharapova had already qualified and knew that but did not know what the specific scenarios were as far as Pennetta was concerned.

 

She said: “I knew that I had qualified before my match, but I didn’t know about how the result of the match would change the standings or who would go in.       I knew if she would win she would go through. Other than that, I didn’t know the calculations exactly.

 

“I didn’t know in the last point that if I had won match in two that she was out, so it wasn’t something that I had thought about. But then it was mentioned to me after, right before I threw the balls up in the air that she was out.”

 

She continued: “Every match for me just counts at this point in the season in the last tournament. As I said before, I wanted to try to play a high‑quality three matches, and I didn’t know the results would have gone the way that I have expected.

 

“I’m actually, I think, also a little bit surprised that I’ve been able to win three matches, as physical as some of those matches were. I think knowing that I qualified allowed me to be a little bit more aggressive today. I thought I played quite aggressively in the second set and had a good ratio of winners and unforced errors, was quite solid. Served well.

 

“So all those things helped me. And also not playing a third set against Flavia, as we have done previously, is also a big help for me.”

 

Friday’s scenarios are a little less clean cut, but it would be a surprise not to see Garbiñe Muguruza mirror Sharapova with a clean sweep of wins, and few would begrudge Angelique Kerber her shot at getting out of the round robin stages for the first time.

 

With the Singapore Tennis Evening taking up the night’s festivities, play starts at 11am.

Ros Satar is in Singapore covering the WTA Finals as media for Tennis Panorama News. She is a British sports journalist covering tennis, and can also be found at Britwatch Sports.

 

Share

Sharapova 2-0 with Win Over Halep, While Pennetta Notches First Win at WTA Finals

By Ros Satar

(October 27,2015) SINGAPORE- The aftermath of Monday night’s defeat at the WTA Finals in Singapore seemed to weigh heavy in the practice courts for Petra Kvitova, as certainly the first part of her training session revolved around some earnest and animated discussion on the side of her coach David Kotyza before they finally got to hitting (the ball, not each other).

 

Meanwhile Flavia Pennetta looked relaxed in her warm up and despite getting broken in her first game as she took to the court in the day session against Agnieszka Radwanska, she looked to be playing far more aggressively than she had against Simona Halep.

 

As you might come to expect from this pair, the use of angles, the entire court and lines was on full display as the pair matched each other, a break here, a recovery there before Pennetta edged the tiebreak 7-6(5).

 

There was a brief pause as the Italian had to get her ankle strapped after tweaking it in the first set, but she continued to look just that little bit sharper than Radwanska whose customary magic skills seemed to falter against the Italian, as she was edged out 7-6(5), 6-4.

 

Pennetta can appreciate what it must be like for Maria Sharapova to have come back after such a lengthy time off the tour, and to feel she may now have some momentum.

 

The Italian said: “The win she had against Radwanska the first match the first day was impressive. She play good. Of course she is healthy. She has this adrenaline because she was out for three or four months, something like that. When you come in the court after so long you are with a lot of energy. It’s going to be tough for sure. “

 

With her 500th tour win in the balance, and of course her chances of making the semifinals of the tournament, it was going to be a very nail-biting evening for Radwanska as her place in the tournament now depends on the outcome of the match between Simona Halep and Maria Sharapova. She would need Halep to lose to keep her hopes alive.

 

Coming out looking fierce, Halep responded to getting broken straight away by whipping straight back but a sloppy could games where she failed to her chances to go up another break cost her dear as some pleasing variety from Sharapova saw her break on a third set point for the first set.

 

The second set started in the same way with Sharapova making the first strike, but this time Halep was all at sea as Sharapova broke her again to leap out to a 5-1 lead. Those couple of months out might have accounted for a little serving-out rust as Halep ground back two breaks but just could not consolidate to stay in with a fighting chance, with Sharapova winning 6-4, 6-4.

 

Halep acknowledged that Sharapova’s level rises when they play, saying: “She played really well today, even if she didn’t play for a long time, since Wimbledon. Yeah she knows how to play. She’s a champion. She has experience. I can say I feel she’s playing really well against me always, but that’s tennis. I have to accept and to do things better.”

 

Sharapova expects another grueling and physical encounter in the final round robin match, and if Pennetta and Halep both win their matches in straight sets, Sharapova will be eliminated.

 

She said: “I’ve always been a player that goes into a match and I don’t seek perfection because I don’t know if that’s possible. At least I’ve never proven to myself that’s possible. You’re always going to make mistakes and errors.

 

Sometimes, and most of the time, I feel happier when I get through a match and I didn’t play my best tennis but found a way to win. That gives me a lot more confidence.”

 

The second round robin stage for the white group kicks off with the all-Czech encounter between Kvitova and Lucie Safarova, with the night-match focus falling on arguably the other favourite for the title, Garbiñe Muguruza.

Ros Satar is in Singapore covering the WTA Finals as media for Tennis Panorama News. She is a British sports journalist covering tennis, and can also be found at Britwatch Sports.

Share

Muguruza and Kerber Win Their Opening Matches at WTA Finals in Singapore

Angelique Kerber

Angelique Kerber

 

By Ros Satar

 

(October 26, 2015) SINGAPORE –  It was the turn of the White Group to get underway in Singapore, after a high quality end to the opening day, as the two busiest stars opened the evening’s proceedings.

 

Garbine Muguruza may have looked sluggish and like an easy target in their doubles on Sunday where she and partner Carla Suárez Navarro lost to Lucie Safarova and Bethanie Mattek-Sands, but her steely focus was back in full effect as she sought to push for a break before the first change of ends, finally coming good on her fourth break point.

 

She went hunting for a double break cushion in a lengthy see-sawing game but had to wait until the end of the set to get her reward, breaking the Czech for a second time to seal the first set 6-3.

 

Safarova kicked into gear at the start of the second set, breaking Muguruza to start, as she built up a 3-1 lead. The Spaniard edged back on equal terms as the pair upped the quality of their play, pushing each other towards a tie-break.

 

It was a more aggressive start by Muguruza, as she built up a head of steam, leaving Safarova on the back foot. Even a couple of mini-breaks was not quite enough to put her back in contention, as Muguruza closed out with two breaks of the Safarova serve to claim her first singles win at the WTA Finals, 6-3, 7-6(4).

 

Despite the loss, Safarova was able to take some positives away, and of course lives to come back another day.

 

She said: “It was a good match today. She was serving very well and pressuring me. Was going for her shots. I think the difference maybe a lot in self‑confidence. Even in those key moments she remained very strong.”

 

She continued: “So I feel like I’m slowly back in my game, but of course you need the wins. So I will keep positive and keep fighting in the next matches.”

 

For Muguruza it was a dream start on what has been an outstanding year.

 

She told media, after the match: “Obviously to go there and play and win for the first time, it’s great. So I feel now more calm, more in the tournament.

 

“I just went here and maybe … she hasn’t played for maybe couple of weeks. But I definitely played good today, so I think that helped a lot. (Smiling.)”

 

The remaining lefties came right along to do battle next. In practice, Petra Kvitova had looked happy and relaxed, but it was Angelique Kerber who made the quickest adjustment to the court, swiftly breaking to establish a lead that Kvitova never looked close to eradicating.

 

Things looked more hopeful for the 2011 champion as she ground away at Kerber to break away for a 3-1 lead, before the pair traded breaks back and forth on their way to a tie-break. Once ahead, Kerber hung on to grab the victory 6-2, 7-6(3).

 

For a match that promised so much, Kvitova could only acknowledge Kerber’s late burst of form at the tail end of the year.

 

She said: “I know that she’s a great player. She’s very good mover and fighter as well, so I know it’s going to be difficult. I think in the second set it was kind of the fight finally.

 

“I was trying what I can in the moment. I expect for sure difficult match. She play really good swing in Asia. I just knew it’s going to be good match. I didn’t really play the best in the first set, but I was trying to do something a little bit better in the second.”

 

It was a satisfied Kerber who took to the platform – but surprisingly may have also been gearing up for the long haul. She admitted: “I was a little bit nervous before I went on court, but I was actually trying to just play my game plan and it works.

 

“The second set was like a little bit close and was up and downs. Yeah, but I played the tiebreak at the end very good, so that was the key for the match at the end.”

 

Agnieszka Radwanska gets the singles program underway on Tuesday against Flavia Pennetta, with the evening match set for another epic encounter between top seed Simona Halep and Maria Sharapova.

 

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

Share

WTA Finals – Sharapova Rallies While Halep Dominates in Opening Wins

By Ros Satar

(October 25, 2015) SINGAPORE –

Simona Halep [1] d Flavia Pennetta [7]

Halep fist pump-001

Any doubts over Halep’s fitness was dispelled pretty much in an instant (well, at least in the first 25 minutes) as the Romanian scampered around as well as she has ever done, to wrap up the first set over the last Slam title winner of the year in just 25 minutes without dropping a game.

 

Halep, who has struggled in the past with the variety and finesse that an on-form Pennetta has to offer, could seemingly do nothing wrong in the first set, as Pennetta struggled to find any way into the match.

 

The second set saw a lot more attacking play from the Italian as Halep maybe faltered ever so slightly, not quite finding the lines but having no trouble with the wide open space behind them.

 

But Pennetta admitted that she just was not on point to take her chances today as Halep set down a marker that her run to the finals last year was no fluke.

 

She admitted: “The second set was much better. I was trying to find something more, to be more aggressive, and I was more close and I have my chance. I didn’t make it.”

 

Of course the beauty of the round robin format is you live to fight another day. While Pennetta has been to the season ending finals before, winning with doubles partner Gisela Dulko in 2010, this was her first (and of course last) shot at the singles.

 

“I think I have to recover a little bit, to have more energy, to be more aggressive, and that’s going to be my goal for the next match for sure.”

 

For the Romanian – if she can keep up that level of aggression, she will be targeting her first win over Maria Sharapova.

 

She said: “I was well‑prepared and I knew how to play against her. I was expecting that she’s going to play the same like in US Open, and I knew how to adapt the game. So I was solid. I was smart‑aggressive, I can say. I didn’t use overpower. I just opened the court and I tried to finish the point.”

 

Halep started quickly last year, stunning Serena Williams in the round-robin stages before succumbing in the final on her debut. She admitted that last year she was just happy to be there, but if she plays throughout the early stages like she did today, she has to be a favourite to win at the end of next Sunday.

 

 

Maria Sharapova [3] d Agnieszka Radwanska [5] 4-6 6-3 6-4

Sharapova gets ready to serve

If Halep was speedy, we knew we were in for the long haul as Maria Sharapova and Agnieszka Radwanska embarked upon games that were almost half as long as the first set of Halep/Pennetta.

 

Sharapova looked to be a little rusty – something that she probably expected having not gotten through a full match since her semifinal defeat by Serena Williams this summer at Wimbledon. Fist-pumping battling, it was left to Radwanska to pull out the ninja tricks with some outstanding shot-making to keep herself in contention as they both had their chances to make a break, neither being able to convert.

 

After a quick start in the second set by Sharapova, they seemed to be back to their old dueling ways as Radwanska righted the ship to get back on the board at 1-3. But by now the bit was between the Russian’s teeth as she leveled the match to set up a decider, and more importantly to answer the question about how match-ready she was.

 

The first advantage in the decider went to Sharapova in a hold just shy of 14 minutes followed by a break to put Radwanska firmly on the back foot. By now looking spent, it was as much as she could do to stay in contention as Sharapova faltered once after breaking to serve out the match for the first time, before finally grinding out the win, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

 

Radwanska had to admit this was the one that got away, after the match: “I think she is just kind of player that even that she didn’t play for couple months, she’s always ready to play matches and always in shape to play really good match.

 

“I think we always playing three hours match in Championships, so I’m not surprised.

 

“I think it was really good match. I didn’t really use my chances. Couple of off games that I just slip away a little bit.”

 

“Even when you lose you have chances to go for it. Of course no easy matches here, so I’ll be very happy to play the same tennis that I was playing today and we’ll see.”

 

For Sharapova, the relief of having completed her first match since July was palpable.

 

She explained: “I’ve had a lot of starts and stops, and I was just really thrilled that despite not playing these last few months and not playing my best tennis, I was facing an opponent that obviously deserved a spot in tournament and has had a really great last few months, and I just felt like I was able to take myself to another level physically, which I didn’t exactly expect that I would be able to.

 

“I know we have pretty long ones. I know a lot of you look forward to them. I do, too. I really do enjoy playing against her. I feel like those are some of the matches that I like to watch on TV, when different styles of games clash against each other. Becomes that bit of a cat and mouse game.”

 

Play will continue on Monday with both Garbiñe Muguruza taking on Lucie Safarova in the evening session, followed by Petra Kvitova and Angelique Kerber.

 

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

Share
Share