March 30, 2017

Elena Vesnina and Roger Federer Win BNP Paribas Open Singles Titles

(March 19, 2017) Roger Federer and Elena Vesnina took home the BNP Paribas Open singles trophies on Sunday in Indian Wells California. In an all-Swiss affair, Federer defeated Wawrinka 6-4, 7-5 to win his fifth Indian Wells crown, 90th career tournament and 25th Masters Series 1000 title. He is now tied with Novak Djokovic for most Indian Wells titles.

At 35-years and seven months old, the 18-time major champion became the oldest BNP Paribas Open champion. Federer is third in Open Era in number of titles behind Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl.

The women’s final was an all-Russian contest which saw Elena Vesnina rally from a set and 1-4 down in the second s set and 2-4 down in the third set to beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-7 (6), 7-5, 6-4 in just over three hours in the first match of the day.

“For me, the dream run continues,” Federer said during the trophy ceremony.

“This was not part of the plan, to win Australia and Indian Wells. The goal was to be top 8 by after Wimbledon, so I’m there much, much faster.”

“I will make the plan for the remainder of the season, especially for the clay, after Miami, and then see also what the goals are because the goals are clearly changing after this dream start.”

“The way he’s playing is just so beautiful,” said finalist Wawrinka. “Everything looks perfect. He’s moving amazingly well. He has amazing touch. He’s doing everything you can do on the tennis court.”

“I think Stan can be very proud of his efforts here and the start to the year,” Federer said to media. “And the tournament he played here was great for him. He’s always struggled in the past in the desert. And then, for me, the dream run continues. The fairytale of the comeback that I have already shown in Australia.

“Again, I’m not as surprised as I was in Australia, but still this comes as a big, big surprise to me, nevertheless, to win here again and beating the players that I did and the way I did. I mean, couldn’t be more happy.

“It’s an absolute, huge start to the year for me. Yeah, last year didn’t win any titles. I don’t think I was in any finals except maybe Brisbane last year.

“The change is dramatic, and it feels great.”

Federer’s ranking will move up to No. 6 as of Monday.

Last February, 14th seed Vesnina was ranked No. 122 in the world and lost in qualifying at Indian Wells. Talk about a turnaround. She’ll be No. 13 in the world when the rankings come out on Monday.

Like her last year on tour, she had to battle back and Sunday was no different. The 30-year-old, who defeated No. 2 seed Angela Kerber and No. 12 seed Venus Williams on the road to making the final, talked about how she was mentally able to rebound from a set and 1-4 down:

“I was down the whole match except the first set. I was up with a break twice and I had set point. I didn’t use my chances there, and then she won the set and was 4-1-up.

“I was kind of fighting to just stay longer on the court, you know, just don’t give it so easy. I was telling to myself, You’re 4-1 down. Nothing to lose. Just fight for each game, you know, try to win every point, you know, try to deserve every point, because she will not give you anything.

“When I was down 4-2 in the third set, I know these kind of feelings when you’re having so much chances and you’re not using them, then your opponent will have one chance and she will use it.

“So I think that’s the situation what happened with Svetlana and me today, because she was up the whole match. She was up set 4-1, then 4-2 in the third. She had so many break points on my serve. She was 30-Love up couple of times on her serves.

“And I always keep coming back. I stick there, you know. I was just not giving anything, you know, that moment. I was just — I didn’t thought about, like, the end of the match. I was just thinking about how to kind of get back into the game. You know, I was just thinking about that.

“And when I broke her at 4-All and went to serve for the match, I had this in my mind. You know, I was, like, I’m not gonna give it. I went to serve, and I was, like, I never gonna lose this game.

“I don’t know how I have it in my mind, you know, serving for the championship point, championship game, you know, and don’t be so nervous, you know. I was really — that game, I was really calm. I was not thinking that if I’m going to lose this game it’s going to be 5-All. I was not afraid to lose, you know, maybe for the whole match. I was just trying to play.

“And I think Svetlana, end of the match, she was afraid to lose the match, and this is the difference maybe.”

The 31-year-old, two-time major champion and eighth seed Kuznetsova said: “I didn’t feel good today, because she was very aggressive, and I was a little bit out of my game. I was too far from the court, and I was running all the way, way behind, so the only thing I could defend. And I didn’t serve well.

“So I think that was overall the key points. Even I made it 7-6, 4-1 and was one break, and she kept being aggressive, and, yeah, I was too passive. I think that’s why I lost.”

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Venus Williams Reaches Quarterfinals of Indian Wells for First Time Since 2001 with Comeback Win

Venus Williams

(March 14, 2017) Venus Williams moved into the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open for the first time since 2001 defeating qualifier Peng Shuai 3-6, 6-1, 6-3, winning the last four straight games. Williams returned to play in Indian Wells last year after refusing to play the tournament for 15 years. She lost in the second round last year.

Williams hit 40 winners with 40 unforced errors during the match.

“Today was final 16,” said Williams. “So advance to the final 8. There are 8 people left. One of us will win. So the odds are getting better.

“I have to focus. It’s not there yet. It’s just, like, getting closer. You know, your mouth starts to water, but it doesn’t mean you’ll get fed. So I have to get it in and try to win.”

“Wasn’t really sure how it was going to turn out today,” she continued. “There were some up-and-downs and errors. It was so frustrating. But I feel like I got my focus more in that second set and towards the end of the third, because — I don’t know. I’m just a competitor. So if things get closer, then I think my better tennis is going to come. Obviously, I don’t want things to get close. I want to try to run away with it.”

Williams will face off against  Elena Vesnina who upset No.2 seed Angelique Kerber  6-3, 6-3 for a place in the semifinals.

“I think she played good. I was not playing good,” said Kerber about her loss. “It was actually not my day. I was doing a lot of mistakes. I was not moving, actually, good. But it’s happened. I mean, she played from the beginning until the end good tennis, and she was aggressive. So, yeah, she took the game on her hand.”

 

No. 3 seed Karolina Pliskova moved into the elite 8 when 15th seed Timea Bacsinszky retired from the match trailing 5-1 in the first set.

Pliskova, who reached the semifinals here last year, will take on Garbiñe Muguruza. The Spaniard defeated Elina Svitolina 7-6(5), 1-6, 6-0.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova photo courtesy of Taste of Tennis

No. 19 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova fended off No. 5 Dominika Cibulkova 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in a little over two hours to reach her first Indian Wells final eight since 2009.

“I always like to get revenges,” said the Russian to media.  The Slovak beat Pavlyuchenkova in Doha a few weeks ago. “Feels amazing, especially we just recently played in Doha and also three-set match. I felt like — I was really disappointed, though, even though it was really good level from the first till the last point.

“I thought I just didn’t convert my chances, and so really happy with the way I finished. I felt kind of good in the third set, as well.”

 

“The key was to, of course, be aggressive, which is my game, but at the same time, find the balance between being aggressive and not giving her a lot of easy shots, easy points, because she’s great fighter, and she’s always there. I know when she’s down in the score, she’s going for the shots.”

She’ll play countrywoman, No. 8 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova who beat 21st seed Caroline Garcia 6-1, 6-4.

More to follow…

 

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Vandeweghe Upsets No. 1 Kerber, Venus Williams Reaches Australian Open Quarterfinals

 

(January 22, 2017) Defending champion Angelique Kerber has joined fellow No. 1 seed Andy Murray as both top seeds lost on Sunday. Kerber lost to American American CoCo Vandeweghe 6-2, 6-3 in the night session at the Australian Open.

CoCo Vandeweghe

Vandeweghe moves into the quarterfinals against Garbine Muguruza, who beat Sorana Cirstea 6-2, 6-3. Murguruza won last year’s French Open.

“It’s really special to play a No. 1 player at any stage in any round,” Vandewege said in her on-court interview with Renee Stubbs. “I believe this is my first number one win, so I will take that.”

“It was a tough match, and of course I’m disappointed,” Kerber said. “But I was not feeling the ball at all tonight. I was not playing good from the first point.

“So, yeah, it was not my day and not my match, for sure.”

“I was trying tonight, as well, everything. But, yeah, I missed a lot and I make a lot of unforced errors. So this was not my game like I play normally.”

“It’s the first time I’ve ever beaten a world No. 1. And especially at a Grand Slam, I think it makes it that much sweeter,” Vandeweghe said.

?I just felt like I was really executing my game well, keeping her on the back foot, and just kind of playing within myself. So that’s what I felt was going on on the court.”

“We’re two totally opposite players. I would expect myself to have more winners as well as more unforced errors than she would have. So in that fact, I mean, that’s kind of an expected stat that I would have more than she would.

“I mean, what the number would end up being is kind of up to how well I’m hitting my spots and how well I’m playing out there against an opponent.”

“We’ve played a lot, a couple of times,” Muguruza said about playing the American in the quarterfinals. “It’s 1-1 head-to-head. She’s a tricky player. She has a lot of power, full shots, serve, everything. She can play very well.”

“It’s an interesting matchup because she holds a different aspect to a playing style of she’s an aggressor, as well,”  Vandeweghe commented. “She is going to play that way, and no other way.”

“For me it depends on if I can match it, as well as if I can beat her to that punch of getting first strike, first play.”

With Kerber’s loss, should Serena Williams win the tournament, she would move back up to the No. 1 ranking.

Andy Murray lost to No. 50 Mischa Zverev in four sets earlier in the day.

No. 50 Mischa Zverev Beats No. 1 Andy Murray at Australian Open; Roger Federer Advances in Five Sets

Venus Williams, reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open for the second time in the last three years by beating qualifier Mona Barthel 6-3, 7-5 on Sunday in Melbourne.

 

The 36-year-old American, seeded 13th, the oldest player female singles player left in the draw, has not dropped a set entering the final eight.

 

“I was born to play tennis,” Williams said in her on-court interview. “I found my calling. I was meant to do this.”

This will be the 37th career major quarterfinal she has played.

 

 

Williams will play 24th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova who was the first player to reach quarterfinals defeated Russian countrywoman and 8th seeded two-time major champion Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3, 6-3 in 68 minutes.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova photo courtesy of Taste of Tennis

This will be the Russian’s first-ever Australian Open quarterfinal.

 

“It feels amazing,” she said. “I’m really happy with my first quarterfinal here in Australian Open.”

 

“I have a lot of memories, because I, yeah, won it twice in juniors and was showing some good tennis, as well, also in the pros, but never achieved something, like, big here.”
“I feel much fitter, as well. And again, I repeat like I’m enjoying a bit more, like I take it a bit differently now.

“Yeah, I feel like I’m showing some good tennis at the same time, as well, and so just trying to put everything in pieces.

“Yeah, but again, I’m not going, like, super excited about it. I just take match by match, and, you know, I want to do even better.”

“Today I played a qualifier, and she hardly ever missed,” Williams said. “So it doesn’t matter who you come up against, they are coming and they want to win, too. They have nothing to lose.
“I’m going to be focused on winning one round at a time and focus on doing what it takes to be there.”

“I know her game,” Williams said of her next opponent. “I have played a lot of matches this tournament kind of not knowing what to expect. That can be a little — it’s a whole different approach.

“Now I have played her. I know what to expect. So I can almost already be settled in before I get to that match. So it’s a good thing.”

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Kuznetsova and Carreno Busta Take Kremlin Cup Singles Titles

Svetlana Kuznetsova

Svetlana Kuznetsova

(October 23, 2016) Svetlana Kuznetsova and Pablo Carreno Busta won the singles titles at the Kremlin Cup over the weekend. The win for Kuznetsova over Daria Gavrilova 6-2, 6-1, clinched the final spot in the WTA Year-End Finals.

 

“Before the match, when I was warming up, my body hurt,” Kuznetsova said. “I felt tired, I didn’t really know how I was going to play. I concentrated and thought that I had to be over it. Before the match I had the energy and the desire to play. I wanted to show good tennis and I am happy I succeeded. I fought in every match. I tried to win. I had very tough matches because I didn’t felt comfortable with the tennis I played. But I understood I could win even with bad tennis. I leveled up my tennis.”

The men’s sinner Carreno Busta beat Fabio Fognini 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 for his second ATP World Tour crown.

 

“When you win your first title, it’s a really special one but this one is special also,” said the winner. In both finals, I lost the first set. But then I continued fighting and I continued believing in myself, and at the end, I won the match and the tournament.”
VTB KREMLIN CUP – MOSCOW, RUS
$823,888
17-23 OCTOBER 2016

RESULTS – OCTOBER 22, 2016

Women’s
Singles – Final

[1] [WC] S. Kuznetsova (RUS) d D. Gavrilova (AUS) 62 61

RESULTS – SUNDAY, 23 OCTOBER 2016

Singles – Final
[6] P. Carreno Busta (ESP) d F. Fognini (ITA) 46 63 62

Doubles – Final
[2] J. Cabal (COL) / R. Farah (COL) d [PR] J. Knowle (AUT) / J. Melzer (AUT) 75 46 10-5

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Raonic Falls to Qualifier, Muguruza and Kuznetsova Also Lose at US Open

Milos Raonic

Milos Raonic

(August 31, 2016) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Wimbledon finalist and US Open fifth seed Milos Raonic along with French Open winner and third seed Garbine Muguruza became the biggest upset victims so far at the US Open on Wednesday. Ninth seed and 2004 US Open title holder Svetlana Kuznetsova also lost.

Top seed Novak Djokovic advanced to the third round when his opponent Jiri Vesely withdrew from the tournament with a left forearm injury.

Cramps caused Canadian Raonic a 6-7 (4), 7-5, 7-5, 6-1 second round loss to American qualifier Ryan Harrison ranked 120th in the world. Raonic said the cramping began halfway through the second set.

“I don’t think hydration was an issue,” Raonic said. “I think I always take that precaution. Probably just nerves and stress, a mental sort of overexuberance rather than — probably more than it should.”

“I think I didn’t start off well in the match,” explained the Canadian. “I started off feeling a little bit heavy, which has happened to me before. You sort of get through the first set. You pull that one out and you sort of start to relax a little bit. I didn’t do that today. I just sort of compounded the stress. I kept trying to force the shots. I was hesitating mentally on the shots. I just felt a little bit a step slow.”

“I was my own worst enemy today. I tried the best I could to find my way out of it. My body didn’t let me.”

“The sort of expectation of pressure on myself to get out of that situation like I normally would in a situation like that, like happened to me in the beginning of Wimbledon, I didn’t do that.

“Then all that kind of forceful play caught up to me there in the end.”

Raonis hit 15 double faults in the match.

Raonic did credit his opponent: “He played well. He did a lot of things well. I think he stepped up and he played a solid match. There was a few breakpoints. I can’t remember if it was in the second or third. Hit three aces down the T; won three out of four of them.

“At the beginning of the second, a breakpoint. I hit a good forehand cross. He went for it down the line and made it. A reaction volley, made it as well. He stepped up and got through those important moments.

“I didn’t create this pressure for myself or this kind of stress on myself. He did that.”

Ryan Harrison

Ryan Harrison

“The cool and exciting thing was that I had a great win today, and there was no point where I felt like I was red lining or playing a level that wasn’t consistent,” Harrison said. “Kind of like going back to the first question I answered, when I broke early in the first set, I got broken back, there was no panic because I didn’t feel I was playing above my level to get up the break.

“That’s when I was just focused on staying the course. Lose a tight first set. Obviously a lot of people are going, you know, long, tight first set. The first couple games of the second are really important. I saved like four or five breakpoints in that first game of the second set. That was a huge hump, because you don’t want to be down a set and a break to that guy because he can just take the racquet out of your hand at times.

“That was another pivotal moment. I’m sure looking back there were plenty of times where it could have gotten away from me. I’m excited that emotionally and from an execution standpoint I was able to put enough in play and be aggressive enough to take the win.”

 

No. 3 Garbine Muguruza of Spain hit 38 unforced errors in losing 7-5, 6-4 in the first night match to Anastasija Sevastova from Latvia. Sevastova who retired and came back to tennis last after two years dealing with injuries, said she returned to play the majors.

“It still hasn’t settled in,” Noted the Latvian in regard to the upset win. “It feels great, but it’s still not like I won the tournament. It’s only second round.”

“We can enjoy it today, but tomorrow is a new day. There are other matches. Nobody thinks about the previous match. You have to think forward. Tonight I can enjoy.”

Caroline Wozniacki

Caroline Wozniacki

In another major surprise of the day, ninth seed and former US Open champion Kuznetsova jumped out to a 4-0 lead, but her opponent two-time US Open Finalist Caroline Wozniacki won 12 out of the next 15 games to seal the win 6-4, 6-4. Wozniaki, now ranked at 74th in the world is unseeded in Flushing Meadows for the first time since 2007.

 

“I always believe in myself and I always think that in my head I belong to the top of the game,” she said. “You know, I’m going to have tough draws because of my ranking but in the end of the day I’m healthy, and that’s the main thing. Then I can start building from that.”

 

“I love playing here at the Open,” the Dane continued. “I have great memories here. I have had matches against Sveta so many times before here where she’s been killing literally on court 6-1, 4-1, and then I have managed to come back and win the match in three sets.

“It’s like, you know what? Just keep going, wait for your opportunity and your chance, and I did that today.”

 

Other seeds advancing to the third round included Australian Open champion and second seed Angelique Kerber, last year’s women’s finalist 7th seed Roberta Vinci, Madison Keys the eighth seed, the 12th seed Dominika Cibulkova, Johanna Konta No. 13, 14th seed Petra Kvitova, No. 22 Elina Svitolina and No. 24 Belinda Bencic. Moving to the third round on the men’s side –  two-time US Open winner and fourth seed Rafael Nadal, 2014 US Open winner Marin Cilic, No. 9 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, No. 10 seed Gael Monfils, No. 15 Roberto Bautista Agut, 20th seed John Isner, No. 23 Kevin Anderson, No. 24 Lucas Pouille, and No. 26th seed Jack Sock.

 

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Djokovic Survives Test From Nadal to Reach Italian Open Semis; Serena Williams Dominates

Djokovic celebrates win-001

(May 13, 2016) Novak Djokovic came back from a break down in both sets and set points down in the second set to fight off Rafael Nadal 7-5, 7-6(4) to reach the semifinals of the Italian Open on Friday in Rome. The dramatic match lasted almost two-and-a-half hours. The world No. 1 has now beaten the 14-time major champion seven straight times and has raised his record to 26-23 over the current No. 5. The Serb has now won 15 straight sets against the Spaniard.

Nadal grabbed opening breaks of serve in both sets and had five set points in the second set  serving at 5-4, but Djokovic kept coming back from adversity.

“I held my nerve at the clutch moments,” Djokovic said in an interview after the match. “Even though I had nervy beginnings to both sets, with some good games and good play in the crucial moments, I managed to win. It’s a straight-sets win, but it feels like we played five sets.

“Winning against Nadal is the ultimate challenge on clay courts and one of the toughest challenges we have in sport. I have to be very pleased with the way I handled myself in the big moments today. I won against one of my biggest rivals on his preferred surface. We must not forget he’s in form. He won Monte-Carlo and Barcelona and has played well the past couple of weeks. That gives me confidence for the rest of this tournament.”

Djokovic said that it was special to be on court playing against Nadal.

Nadal said that he was not disappointed and felt that he played well against the best player.

Djokovic will face-off against Kei Nishikori in his semifinal on Saturday. The sixth seed Nishikori beat 13th seed Dominic Thiem 6-3, 7-5.

No. 2 seed Andy Murray moved into the final four with a 6-1, 7-5 win over David Goffin. Murray will play French lucky loser Lucas Pouille for s spot in the final on Saturday. Pouille advanced when Juan Monaco withdrew with a left hip injury.

On the women’s side, No. 1 ranked Serena Williams, getting a little revenge from her loss in Miami, when she demolished Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2, 6-0 in 51 minutes. She’ll play Irina-Camelia Begu next who beat Misaki Doi 6-2, 7-6 (3).

On the bottom half of the draw, Garbine Muguruza beat Timea Bacsinszky 7-5, 6-2 and will play Madison Keys, who defeated Barbora Strycova 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.

 

INTERNAZIONALI BNL D’ITALIA – ROME, ITALY
9-15 MAY 2016

RESULTS – MAY 13, 2016
Women’s Singles – Quarterfinals
[1] S. Williams (USA) d [9] S. Kuznetsova (RUS) 62 60
[3] G. Muguruza (ESP) d [11] T. Bacsinszky (SUI) 75 62
I. Begu (ROU) d M. Doi (JPN) 62 76(3)
M. Keys (USA) d B. Strycova (CZE) 64 46 63

Women’s Doubles – Quarterfinals
[1] M. Hingis (SUI) / S. Mirza (IND) d R. Atawo (USA) / A. Spears (USA) 64 62
I. Begu (ROU) / M. Niculescu (ROU) d [3] T. Babos (HUN) / Y. Shvedova (KAZ) 76(4) 63
[4] A. Hlavackova (CZE) / L. Hradecka (CZE) d [5] C. Garcia (FRA) / K. Mladenovic (FRA) 64 64
[7] E. Makarova (RUS) / E. Vesnina (RUS) d A. Klepac (SLO) / K. Srebotnik (SLO) 62 64

Men’s Singles – Quarterfinals
[1] N. Djokovic (SRB) d [5] R. Nadal (ESP) 75 76(4)
[2] A. Murray (GBR) d [12] D. Goffin (BEL) 61 75
[6] K. Nishikori (JPN) d [13] D. Thiem (AUT) 63 75
[LL] L. Pouille (FRA) d [PR] J. Monaco (ARG) w.o. (hip)

Men’s Doubles – Quarterfinals
[5] B. Bryan (USA) / M. Bryan (USA) d [4] J. Murray (GBR) / B. Soares (BRA) 63 64
[6] R. Bopanna (IND) / F. Mergea (ROU) d P. Kohlschreiber (GER) / V. Troicki (SRB) 63 64
[8] V. Pospisil (CAN) / J. Sock (USA) d P. Cuevas (URU) / M. Granollers (ESP) 64 76(4)
[PR] J. Benneteau (FRA) / E. Roger-Vasselin (FRA) d O. Marach (AUT) / M. Matkowski (POL) 46 75 10-8

ORDER OF PLAY – SATURDAY, MAY 14, 2016
CENTER COURT start 12:00 noon
WTA – [3] G. Muguruza (ESP) vs M. Keys (USA)

Not Before 2:30 pm
ATP – [LL] L. Pouille (FRA) vs [2] A. Murray (GBR)

Not Before 5:00 pm
WTA – [1] S. Williams (USA) vs I. Begu (ROU)

Not Before 8:00 pm
ATP – [1] N. Djokovic (SRB) vs [13] D. Thiem (AUT) or [6] K. Nishikori (JPN)
ATP – [PR] J. Benneteau (FRA) / E. Roger-Vasselin (FRA) vs [5] B. Bryan (USA) / M. Bryan (USA)

PIETRANGELI start 12:00 noon
WTA – [4] A. Hlavackova (CZE) / L. Hradecka (CZE) vs [7] E. Makarova (RUS) / E. Vesnina (RUS)

Not Before 1:00 pm
ATP – [8] V. Pospisil (CAN) / J. Sock (USA) vs [6] R. Bopanna (IND) / F. Mergea (ROU)
WTA – After Suitable Rest – [1] M. Hingis (SUI) / S. Mirza (IND) vs I. Begu (ROU) / M. Niculescu (ROU)

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Azarenka Wins Third Miami Open to Complete Indian Wells – Key Biscayne Double

Azarenka with trophy

(April 2, 2016) Victoria Azarenka added her name to the list of women to complete the Indian Wells- Key Biscayne double when the 13th beat 2006 Miami Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova on Saturday 6-3, 6-2 for the title in 77 minutes. The Belarusian joins Steffi Graf and Kim Clijsters as the only women to achieve this feat.

“It’s an honor to stand next to those amazing champions,” Azarenka said during the trophy ceremony.  “This just gives me even more inspiration and motivation to keep working harder, because this feels great.”

Azarenka, once ranked No. 1 in the world and was sidelined with injuries on and off over the past few years.

“The most difficult thing would hold me back was my body wasn’t responding well to training, to matches, and I was unhealthy, I wasn’t fit enough. So that was holding me back. And after I think the point when you reach your goals and (indiscernible) that tip of mentality where you kind of drop your motivation a little bit, if you don’t put the work in it can sway you away.

“I definitely had some difficulties mentally to get back with my motivation, but I never doubted my abilities.”

Despite setbacks, the soon-to-be back into the top five player says she’s back.

“I felt that I played really well,” Azarenka said. “I really took a lot of time away from her and her shots. I didn’t see the statistics, but I think I had a pretty high number of winners today.”
“I think I have played pretty well last year. With my injury I had some pretty good results despite that. So I’m looking forward to putting necessary work in and then go after it.”

Azarenka, a two-time major champion is now 22-1 on the year, her only loss coming to Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber in the final 8 of Melbourne.

No. 15 seed Kuznetsova upset 8-time Miami Open champion Serena Williams in the fourth round. “It’s quite open, but you have to see how Serena will play,” Kuznetsova said. “If she’s in a good mood, not good mood, good feet, not good feet – you never know.”

“I’d like to congratulate Victoria for doing such a good job this year and in these four weeks,” Kuznetsova said in her runner-up speech both speaking in Spanish and English.

“I want congratulate Sveta for the great result,” Azarenka said. “I know you’ve had a lot of ups and downs in your career and I’m so happy to see you again in top form producing some great tennis.”

Azarenka dedicated her 20th career title to her family, especially her parents.

Azarenka said that she’s celebrating her title by eating pizza.

The tennis season switches from the hardcourts of the Unites States to the clay courts of mostly Europe next week and Azarenka says she’s ready.

“Definitely very motivated for clay season. I always been a high favorite of proving people wrong, and that’s what also motivates me a lot.

“Going into clay season, people say it’s not my favorite surface and whatever, I’m going to work pretty hard to make sure it’s going to be my favorite surface. I’m going to put in the work that’s needed and the adjustments that’s needed.”

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Victoria Azarenka to Play Svetlana Kuznetsova in Miami Open Final

(March 31, 2016) A pair of former Miami Open winners and two-time major champions have reached the women’s final. Svetlana Kuznetsova, a 2006 winner of the Miami Open held off Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky 7-5, 6-3. 2009 and 2011 Key Biscayne winner, 13th seed Victoria Azarenka gained a little revenge from the Australian Open by beating No. 2 Angelique Kerber. Kerber beat Azarenka in the quarterfinals of Melbourne and went on to beat Serena Williams in the final to capture her first major title.

Kuznetsova knocked out eight-time champion Serena Williams in the fourth round of Miami and survived four straight three-set wins to reach the semifinal.

The 30-year-old Russian at No. 19 in the world has become the lowest ranked finalist since 2005, when No. 38 Kim Clijsters won the Miami title.

Should Kuznetsova win the title, she would return to the top ten. She talked about her tournament so far.

“I just take match by match and I just go,” she said. “It’s one more match. I’ll play with another amazing opponent. I had great wins this week, but one match, it’s a lot. It’s almost like everything. It’s great, you know.

“I start really well playing in Sydney, and then Australian Open didn’t happen to me to play good there. But I still felt I was in good level. Then I kind of mess up with Fed Cup and all that results. It was not good for me.

“I didn’t feel going in that good shape going to the U.S. swing. I was not feeling confident at all. After I had a loss in Indian Wells I tried to work a lot and training every morning a lot just to get confidence back, get my fitness.

“I’m doing better. I’m appreciate, I am blessed I have my body to play so many years and to win against good players, top players. It’s great when things come together. Either way, it’s not the end of the world, but it’s a great week. I’m really pleased and happy the way I fight through all these tournaments and weeks and players.”

On-court after the match, the former French Open and U.S. Open champion said she was happy wrapping up the match in straight sets.

“I am happy that I could hang in there and never let my hands down,” said Kuznetsova.

“I’m happy I’m still able to play against the best in the world. I was praying to finish it in two sets so I would have a little more time to rest.”

 

Victoria Azarenka

Victoria Azarenka

Azarenka advanced during the Thursday night session, improving her record this year to 21-1, not dropping a set during the tournament. Should the Belarusian win, she’d become only the third woman player to win the Indian Wells – Miami double in the same year.

Both Azarenka and Kerber produced hard-hitting shots with very exciting rallies. Azarenka had her serve broken, serving for the match at 5-4 in the second set but won the next two games to close it.

Azarenka broke the German’s serve seven time during the match, hitting 29 winners and only making 16 unforced errors.

“Vika, she is doing amazing,” Kuznetsova said about potentially playing her in the final. “She is extremely prepared. Playing really confident taking all her chances.”

Azarenka is 4-4 against Kuznetsova in head-to-head competition. The last time they faced each other was in the quarterfinals of the 2013 Australian Open. Azarenka won the match and went on to win her second straight Melbourne crown.

Kei Nishikori photo courtesy of MiamiTennisNews.com

Kei Nishikori photo courtesy of MiamiTennisNews.com

On the men’s side of the draw, No. 6 Kei Nishikori survived five match points to beat No. 16 Gael Monfils 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3) to advance to the semifinals on Thursday. He’ll face No. 24 seed Nick Kyrgios who surprised No. 12 Milos Raonic 6-4, 7-6(4).

Nishikori was down 4-5, 0-40 before fighting off the Frenchman.

“I was up a break and I had many chances to break again, you know, second time,” said the top player from Japan.

“You know, I just try to focus when I lost the game for 4-All. Actually, I knew something like that was going to be happen, so I was kind of ready and like 50/50.

“But when I was down 4-5, Love-40, I thought, All right, that’s it. Especially the last couple games I wasn’t serving well, so that was — I thought it’s going to be tough to come back. I tried to play one point at time. Yeah, I thought I have to hit the ball to win the points, and I did.

“The tiebreak I was try to be focus again. I saw he was down a little bit, so try to be focus again. Yeah, did pretty good in tiebreak.”

“Then I think at 3-4 I really raise my level,” Monfils said. “I think I start to be very aggressive, start to go for it, and still had the strong feeling that I can make it.

“At the end, I think I push very hard. Then definitely I have opportunity it close it out, but actually Kei played strong. He fought well.

“Actually, I think in the breaker he was just better than me.”

Kyrgios talked about playing Nishikori next: “Obviously Kei is one of the greatest players in the world at the moment. He has an unbelievable return of serve, moves unbelievably fast, hits big from the baseline, doesn’t have many weaknesses.

“When I played him in Shanghai I didn’t really do too much wrong. I played a great match the whole time and he just played a really well in the big moments. I definitely had chances.

“I know what my game plan is going to be. It’s going to be a tough match, but I’m looking forward to it. He’s a great guy.”

For his efforts in Miami, the young Australian’s ranking will move into the top 20.

MIAMI OPEN RESULTS – MARCH 31, 2016
Women’s Singles – Semifinals
[13] V. Azarenka (BLR) d [2] A. Kerber (GER) 62 75
[15] S. Kuznetsova (RUS) d [19] T. Bacsinszky (SUI) 75 63

Men’s Singles – Quarterfinals
[6] K. Nishikori (JPN) d [16] G. Monfils (FRA) 46 63 76(3) – saved 5 m.p.
[24] N. Kyrgios (AUS) d [12] M. Raonic (CAN) 64 76(4)

Men’s Doubles – Semifinals
[5] P. Herbert (FRA) / N. Mahut (FRA) d [4] B. Bryan (USA) / M. Bryan (USA) 63 63
R. Klaasen (RSA) / R. Ram (USA) d T. Huey (PHI) / M. Mirnyi (BLR) 64 62

ORDER OF PLAY – FRIDAY, APRIL 01, 2016
STADIUM start 1:00 pm
ATP – [1] N. Djokovic (SRB) vs [15] D. Goffin (BEL)
WTA – M. Gasparyan (RUS) / M. Niculescu (ROU) vs [4] T. Babos (HUN) / Y. Shvedova (KAZ)

7:00 pm
ATP – [24] N. Kyrgios (AUS) vs [6] K. Nishikori (JPN)
WTA – [3] B. Mattek-Sands (USA) / L. Safarova (CZE) vs [8] Y. Xu (CHN) / S. Zheng (CHN)

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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)

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Svetlana Kuznetsova Upsets Serena Williams at Miami Open; Andy Murray Also Ousted

(March 28, 2016) Serena Williams’ twenty match winning streak at the Miami Open was snapped by Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-7 (3), 6-1, 6-2 in the fourth round on Monday.

It’s the first time since 2000 that the American has not reached the quarterfinals of the Miami event. The world No. 1 was trying to win her fourth straight and ninth title in Key Biscayne.

The 34-year-old, 21-time major champion has not won a tournament since winning the event in Cincinnati last August.

“It’s obviously disappointing, but I’ve won here a lot, so it’s okay,” Williams said in her news conference.

“I did the best that I could. My fans, you know, I did the best I could do. I can’t win every match. The players come out and play me like they’ve never played before in their lives.

“You know, the best that I could do today. I have to be 300% every day, so…”

Russian Kuznetsova made only 15 unforced errors to Williams’ 50.  Kuznetsova broke serve 6 times. The 15th seed won Miami back in 2006.

“I’m too old,” Kuznetsova said in her on-court interview. “I’ve been many times on this court. I love being back here, and I’m really happy with my performance.”

“Physically I’m fine,” Williams said. “I don’t know, I guess I didn’t move today. Maybe that was one of the things that didn’t work out for me.”

Asked about if there are too many expectations placed on her, Williams said: “I don’t think there is expectations. I mean, there obviously is expectations, but I think overall I put a lot of expectations on myself more than anything.

“So that’s pretty hard to live up to, is the expectations I put on myself.

“I have so many people saying congratulations I feel like I won the title already,” Kuznetsova told media. “Not real.

“Now these days the tennis is extremely tough and each opponent is really difficult to play. I’m just focusing for tomorrow’s match. I don’t have too much time to rest.

“Really looking forward to give my best another day tomorrow.”

“I knew I had to go for my serves. I think I barely did double fault. I knew I had to go aggressive. If I would give some easy second serves I would get my ass kicked, you know, out there.”

Asked if she thought Williams was struggling, she said: “I mean, you say drama when somebody, No. 1, which is probably one of the greatest in the history of athletes didn’t win four slams. This is drama. For me this would be miracle of the year. For us it’s drama that she didn’t win the fourth Grand Slam of the year.

“She struggled a little bit probably because she lost Australian Open, but, I mean, she is still No. 1 and she still plays great. I don’t see much to be depressed about.”

“I mean, going into today’s match I knew she is not on her top game, but neither was I. I didn’t feel good. I knew I was hang in there and I will fight for each ball.

“It’s her game, as I said, mentioned earlier. She goes for her shots, and I have to move her as more I can and make her do more unforced errors. This is my goal, how I have to win, because I’m not going to overhit her or do more winners than Serena, or do more aces. This is not my game.

“If I put myself and Serena on the paper, that’s what I fight for: for her to make unforced errors, to bring more returns back, to serve better, and I think it worked really well for me today.”

In addition to the top seed falling, the No. 2 on the women’s side also lost. 2012 champion Agnieszka Radwanska,  lost to No. 19 Timea Bacsinszky 2-6, 6-4, 6-2.

A major upset took place on the men’s side as well when No. 2 Andy Murray lost to No. 26 Grigor Dimitrov 6-7 (1), 6-4, 6-3. Dmitrov won the last five games to close the match.

Murray made 55 unforced errors and had his serve broken six times in the match.

“I got myself up 3-1 in the third set, which is a good position to be in, and then the mistakes started creeping in,” Murray said. “That’s nothing to do with adjustments. A lot were unforced errors and just poor mistakes.”

“I made many more mistakes than usual, especially in the third set, so that was surprising for me.

“But, again, I got myself in a winning position, so it’s not like I came out and played like awful stuff the whole match. Just when you get in winning positions you need to put your foot down. The last two tournaments I certainly haven’t done that.”

“In then the third set managed to get up a break and then a lot of unforced errors. Credit to him. He was more solid than me.”

“I’m happy,” Dimitrov said. “Of course I’m happy with that victory. Every time you beat a top player you know you must have done something good.

“As I said, I’m just very happy with the win and just focusing on the next round. I’m not trying to rank anything right now. I’m still in the tournament. Looking for my next opponent. It’s a good win. Still in a way it’s the beginning of the year. Clay is coming after.

“So just focusing on what I have to do.”

There is only one of the top five men’s seeds left – No. 1 Novak Djokovic.

MIAMI OPEN PRESENTED BY ITAU – MIAMI, UNITED STATES

21 MARCH – 3 APRIL, 2016

RESULTS – MARCH 28, 2016
Women’s Singles – Fourth Round
[15] S. Kuznetsova (RUS) d [1] S. Williams (USA) 67(3) 61 62
[2] A. Kerber (GER) d T. Babos (HUN) 62 36 64
[19] T. Bacsinszky (SUI) d [3] A. Radwanska (POL) 26 64 62
[13] V. Azarenka (BLR) d [4] G. Muguruza (ESP) 76(6) 76(4)
[5] S. Halep (ROU) d [WC] H. Watson (GBR) 63 64
[30] E. Makarova (RUS) d [12] E. Svitolina (UKR) 61 64
[22] M. Keys (USA) d I. Begu (ROU) 63 61
[24] J. Konta (GBR) d [32] M. Niculescu (ROU) 62 62

Women’s Doubles – Second Round
M. Gasparyan (RUS) / M. Niculescu (ROU) d [1] M. Hingis (SUI) / S. Mirza (IND) 64 62
[3] B. Mattek-Sands (USA) / L. Safarova (CZE) d D. Kasatkina (RUS) / E. Vesnina (RUS) 62 63

 

Men’s Singles – Third Round
[26] G. Dimitrov (BUL) d [2] A. Murray (GBR) 67(1) 64 63
[6] K. Nishikori (JPN) d [27] A. Dolgopolov (UKR) 62 62
[17] R. Bautista Agut (ESP) d [9] J. Tsonga (FRA) 26 63 76(3)
[12] M. Raonic (CAN) d [22] J. Sock (USA) 76(3) 64
[16] G. Monfils (FRA) d [23] P. Cuevas (URU) 63 64
[24] N. Kyrgios (AUS) d [Q] T. Smyczek (USA) 64 64
D. Dzumhur (BIH) d [Q] M. Kukushkin (KAZ) 46 61 62
An. Kuznetsov (RUS) d A. Mannarino (FRA) 26 75 60

Doubles – Second Round
[4] B. Bryan (USA) / M. Bryan (USA) d R. Bautista Agut (ESP) / V. Troicki (SRB) walkover
[5] P. Herbert (FRA) / N. Mahut (FRA) d A. Qureshi (PAK) / G. Simon (FRA) 62 63
[WC] O. Jasika (AUS) / J. Smith (AUS) d D. Marrero (ESP) / B. Paire (FRA) 63 64
R. Klaasen (RSA) / R. Ram (USA) d [PR] M. Cilic (CRO) / M. Draganja (CRO) 76(10) 60

ORDER OF PLAY – TUESDAY, MARCH 29, 2016
STADIUM start 11:00 am
ATP – [10] R. Gasquet (FRA) vs [7] T. Berdych (CZE)

Not Before 1:00 pm
WTA – [19] T. Bacsinszky (SUI) vs [5] S. Halep (ROU)
ATP – [1] N. Djokovic (SRB) vs [14] D. Thiem (AUT)
ATP – [16] G. Monfils (FRA) vs [26] G. Dimitrov (BUL)

Not Before 7:30 pm
WTA – [15] S. Kuznetsova (RUS) vs [30] E. Makarova (RUS)

Not Before 9:00 pm
ATP – [6] K. Nishikori (JPN) vs [17] R. Bautista Agut (ESP)

GRANDSTAND start 10:50 am
ATP – [LL] H. Zeballos (ARG) vs [15] D. Goffin (BEL)
ATP – [18] G. Simon (FRA) vs L. Pouille (FRA)
ATP – [24] N. Kyrgios (AUS) vs An. Kuznetsov (RUS)

Not Before 5:00 pm
ATP – D. Dzumhur (BIH) vs [12] M. Raonic (CAN)

COURT 1 start 4:00 pm
WTA – [4] T. Babos (HUN) / Y. Shvedova (KAZ) vs C. Dellacqua (AUS) / S. Stosur (AUS)
WTA – M. Gasparyan (RUS) / M. Niculescu (ROU) vs V. King (USA) / A. Kudryavtseva (RUS)

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