2014/07/24

Juan Martin Del Potro Wins Sydney International

Del Potro

By Dave Gertler

(January 11, 2014) SYDNEY – A flurry of unforced errors in the first set between Bernard Tomic and Juan Martin Del Potro was the beginning of the end of Tomic’s campaign to defend the Apia International title, in Sydney on Saturday night.

For the first six games, both Tomic and Del Potro displayed a cross section of the shots and power available to them, and although Tomic was dropping the first point of his service games – a trend that would continue throughout the rest of the match – he was still managing to hold serve, albeit without pushing Del Potro on his own serve – also an unhelpful trend for the 21-year-old Australian.

Tomic was hanging in there with the world No.5, and serving at 3-all when he made four consecutive unforced errors to hand Del Potro the break. This would be the start of a ten-point run that would only end when Tomic was serving at 3-5, 0-30. Seemingly stripped of his confidence from this point, the set was over a few points later, when Tomic netted a backhand to give Del Potro the first set 6-3.

Tomic would later comment on the significant turning point, saying, “I felt like at the 3 all game I missed two, three shots I shouldn’t have probably missed. From then, he just sort of got momentum and started to relax, and he was starting to play to win rather not to lose. From then it was very difficult for me to turn it around. Very difficult.”

Nonetheless, after a rousing cheer from the Aussie crowd between play of the first and second sets, Tomic showed positive signs of keeping up with the grand slam champion. When Del Potro – whom many in the crowd also came to support – held the opening service game of the second set to love, Tomic matched this feat on his own serve, firing off two aces on the way to his own love-hold.

Unfortunately for Tomic, that was all the love he would get on Ken Rosewall Arena, as he would go on to lose the next five games, and the championship, in a match that lasted 53 minutes.

A stingy Del Potro never let Tomic have more than two points on his serve – he dominated his younger opponent with 83% first serve points won (compared to Tomic’s 60%) and 86% second serve points won (compared to Tomic’s 25%). Towards the end of the short match, Del Potro was regularly clocking over 200km/h on first serve, whereas the Australian’s first serve maxed out at about 160km/h.

Del Potro said post match, “I think I play great. My forehand works perfect, I make a lot winners, many aces, play good slices. Every long rally we played I won all of them.” He summarized the win over Tomic, saying, “I think Bernard was a little frustrating after see me very focus on the match and hitting the ball so well. He is still young in some moment of the match, but he has everything to win titles, and he will reach finals very, very soon.”

Both players are now looking ahead to the Australian Open in Melbourne, where Tomic has drawn world No.1 Rafael Nadal in the first round. Ken Rosewall, the man himself, had congratulated both players on court after the final was over. “He said, Very good tournament. Pleased to have you back,” Tomic recounted his conversation with the living tennis legend, “I said, Thank you, Mr. Rosewall, hopefully next year I can come back and have another chance of winning.  He wished me luck for Tuesday’s match against Rafa.”

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney and was covering the Australian summer of tennis for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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Preview of Apia International Men’s Final – Tomic vs Del Potro

 

Bernard Tomic

Bernard Tomic

By Dave Gertler

(January 10, 2014) SYDNEY – While the women’s draw at the 2014 Apia International was characterized by the early exits of top seeds and drawcards, the men’s top seed and – at least for the local crowd – top drawcard both remain to battle it out in their final at Ken Rosewall Arena on Saturday night.

Australia’s Bernard Tomic, who needed a wildcard to get into an event where he’s defending his first title -  an indication of his inconsistent results over the past 12 months – has shown largely a return to form throughout the four matches he’s played to reach the final.

The trajectory of his final opponent, Juan Martin Del Potro, has been slightly different, his bye into the second round meaning preparation consists of only three matches. His first and second matches in Sydney revealed signs of early-season nerves and cobwebs needing to be dusted off, dropping the opening set in his first match against Nicolas Mahut, then being outplayed by Radek Stepanek in the second set of his quarterfinal match.

Perhaps Del Potro, when facing Dmitry Tursunov in the semifinal on Friday, was eager to make a statement as much to himself as to the spectators, fans and media ahead of the Australian Open, when he elevated his level of strike force – and pulled the rug out from underneath an in-form opponent in Tursunov who was himself at the top of his game. At times during the 6-4, 6-2 semifinal against Tursunov, it felt like Del Potro was treating the match like a hitting session so far lacking from his Australian Open training schedule.

Del Potro assessed his form after the Tursunov match, saying, “Yeah, I think I played the best match of the week. I played great with my forehands and serves. I didn’t make easy errors and I play solid on the baselines and I play good dropshots, good volleys.”

Whereas Del Potro arrives in the final at the top of his game, Tomic, having eked out an uncomfortable three-set win over Sergiy Stakhovsky – at times showing signs of frustration and fatigue – may as a result carry some self-doubt into his title defense match. “I know what Juan is gonna be doing,” said Tomic, “Obviously he’s very, very good at what he does. This is why he’s there. I have to do something different. I have to play my game.”

Having played his ‘own’ style of game to win against his quarterfinal against Alexandr Dolgopolov – an opponent against whom he had only one win in six matches previously. Tomic was able to dictate play in long rallies against an similarly crafty opponent in Dolgopolov, eventually wresting control of the match and frustrating Dolgopolov into submission.

Tomic knows however, against Del Potro, whose serve and forehand are of the best on the tour, “You know, not much you can do when he’s playing good,” and having just witnessed Del Potro’s dominant play against Tursunov, said, “I have to go for my shots and play the way I played in my first round and the quarters to win,” adding that, “He could get tight and I play a little bit differently, so hopefully I can get buzzed up and play my tennis.”

Conclusion? Tomic will be hoping to draw Del Potro into longer rallies to establish control of a cat-and-mouse dynamic to as many points as he can early on. The crowd will be a factor if he can do this, especially if it manifests in an early break. He will also be hoping Del Potro has an off-night on serve.

Del Potro may take a few games to get warmed up. He will be keen to show Ken Rosewall Arena the finesse and shot-variation which along with his power, are equally responsible for his place in the world’s top 5. Look for Del Potro to approach the net as well as mix it up with drop shots and varying his pace, as a means of both unsettling the rhythm of his opponent, as well as annexing his own share of support from an Aussie crowd who have a soft spot for swashbuckling all-court tennis players.

The pair have only played once before – in 2013 on a Washington hardcourt, where Del Potro won 6-3, 6-3. Their second meeting has potential to be a much closer battle, but 25-year-old Del Potro – at the peak of his career – is more likely to match Tomic’s court-smarts and tennis intelligence that so often wins him matches against higher ranked players, than 21-year-old Tomic is likely to cancel out the pure force of Del Potro with his own shot-making ability.

One thing’s for sure, it will be fun to see him try.

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering the Australian summer of tennis for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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Tennis Results Round-Up for January 10, 2014

Tennis Results Round-Up for January 10, 2014

aickland

AUCKLAND

RESULTS – FRIDAY, 10 JANUARY 2014

Singles – Semifinals
Y Lu (TPE) d [1] D Ferrer (ESP) 64 76(4)
[3] J Isner (USA) d R Bautista Agut (ESP) 36 76(2) 64

Doubles – Semi-finals

[1] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA) d D Bracciali (ITA) / L Dlouhy (CZE) 64 60
[2] J Knowle (AUT) / M Melo (BRA) d E Butorac (USA) / R Klaasen (RSA) 76(3) 76(4)

SCHEDULE – SATURDAY, 11 JANUARY 2014

CENTRE COURT start 12:00 noon
DOUBLES FINAL – [1] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA) vs [2] J Knowle (AUT) / M Melo (BRA)

Not Before 2:30 pm
SINGLES FINAL – Y Lu (TPE) vs [3] J Isner (USA)     

 moorilla_hobart_logo

HOBART INTERNATIONAL
Hobart, Australia
January 5-11, 2014
$250,000/International
Hard/Outdoors

Results – Friday, January 10, 2014
Singles – Semifinals
(7) Klara Zakopalova (CZE) d. (1) Samantha Stosur (AUS) 63 62
(Q) Garbiñe Muguruza (ESP) d. (Q) Estrella Cabeza Candela (ESP) 60 61

Doubles – Semifinals
(2) Raymond/Zhang (USA/CHN) d. Arruabarrena/Soler-Espinosa (ESP/ESP) 57 64 103 (Match TB)
Niculescu/Zakopalova (ROU/CZE) d. (4) Chan/Husarova (TPE/SVK) 64 62

Order Of Play – Saturday, January 11, 2014
Centre Court (from 12.00hrs)
1. Singles Final: Klara Zakopalova vs. Garbiñe Muguruza
2. Doubles Final: Niculescu/Zakopalova vs. Raymond/Zhang (after suitable rest)

 sydney

APIA INTERNATIONAL SYDNEY
Sydney, Australia
Hard/Outdoors

Results – Friday, January 10, 2014
WTA Singles – Final
(Q) Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL) d. (5) Angelique Kerber (GER) 64 64

WTA Doubles – Final
Babos/Safarova (HUN/CZE) d. (1) Errani/Vinci (ITA/ITA) 75 36 107 (Match TB)

ATP Singles – Semifinals
[1] J Del Potro (ARG) d [4] D Tursunov (RUS) 64 62
B Tomic (AUS) d [Q] S Stakhovsky (UKR) 67(4) 75 63

ATP Doubles – Semi-finals
[3] R Bopanna (IND) / A Qureshi (PAK) d L Rosol (CZE) / J Sousa (POR) 61 62
D Nestor (CAN) / N Zimonjic (SRB) d J Benneteau (FRA) / E Roger-Vasselin (FRA) 46 76(5) 10-5
SCHEDULE – SATURDAY, 11 JANUARY 2014

KEN ROSEWALL ARENA start 4:30 pm
ATP – [3] R Bopanna (IND) / A Qureshi (PAK) vs D Nestor (CAN) / N Zimonjic (SRB)

Not Before 7:30 pm
ATP – [1] J Del Potro (ARG) vs B Tomic (AUS)

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Qualifier Tsvetana Pironkova Wins Sydney Title

Tsvetana Pironkova

Tsvetana Pironkova

By Dave Gertler

(January 10, 2014) SYDNEY – Tsvetana Pironkova has ended an astounding run at the Apia International with a history-making win in the final over Angelique Kerber of Germany. The 26-year-old Pironkova had never reached the final of a WTA tournament before, nor had the Apia International women’s event been won by a qualifier. To realize this achievement, Pironkova had to win eight matches in eight days, beating top seeds Petra Kvitova and Sara Errani along the way.

Immediately after winning her first title, the emotion poured out of the world No.107, as she fell to her knees rocking back and forth for a few moments with her head in her hands, crying. After dedicating the win to her late grandfather in her trophy speech, she said, “This is something that I’ve been waiting for for so long and something that I’ve missed so much. Now that I finally have it, it’s all surreal. I still cannot believe it, honestly.”

Acknowledging the support of her parents, who were in the front row at Ken Rosewall Arena, Pironkova said, “My mom and dad are the people that have always been with me. Good or bad, they have always been behind my back and pushing me. My dad is also my coach, so obviously he’s very excited, too.”

Pironkova had been the more consistent player in a first that saw five breaks of serve between her and her and the world No.9 Kerber, Pironkova breaking Kerber to close out the set 6-4 before racing to a lead in the second set. Pironkova was serving at 3-1 when Kerber seized control of the match, won three games in a row and was serving with a break at 4-3.

Pironkova immediately broke back for 4-4, rallying the support of the crowd who began to sense the magnitude of what they were witnessing. After Pironkova then held serve, Kerber, a game away from losing the match, called her coach onto the court at the change of ends, but was unable to stop the momentum of Pironkova who, with the crowd firmly behind her, broke Kerber for the match.

Pironkova, aware that eight straight matches isn’t ideal preparation for a grand slam tournament, was nonetheless determined to savour the moment, saying, “Now I won the title. I’m not just going to take it for granted. I am going to be happy for as much as I can. I’m I am going enjoy this moment as much as I, and take everything from it that I can. It can only give me good things.”

Pironkova was definitely feeling the effects of eight consecutive matches, revealing that, “In the beginning of the match I was feeling pain all over my legs actually, in my thighs. I said, You’re in the final now.  You cannot let this affect you that much. Play until you pass out. So yeah, I guess the adrenaline helps you to pull through it, because right now when I walk I feel like my legs are going to fall apart, you know.”

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering the Australian summer of tennis for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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Del Potro and Tomic advance to the finals of the Apia International

Bernard Tomic

Bernard Tomic

By Dave Gertler

(January 10, 2014) SYDNEY – Juan Martin Del Potro put on a clinical display of dominant tennis to beat Dmitry Tursunov in the semifinals of the Apia International, on Friday.

Tursunov mustered all the defensive skills he could manage to try and hold off the Argentine world No.5, who seemed to be hitting bigger and moving around the court at a higher intensity than the Sydney crowd had yet seen in 2014. The 31-year-old Russian world No.32 fought well on serve but was unable to match the level of the 2009 US Open champion. While he kept up for most of the first set, only ceding one break toward the end for 4-6, the second set was more one-sided, Tursunov broken twice on the way to a 2-6 scoreline.

“I think I played the best match of the week,” said Del Potro, “I played great with my forehands and serves. I didn’t make easy errors and I play solid on the baselines and I play good dropshots, good volleys. I think I did everything okay, and I’m glad with my level of today. I’m looking forward for the final of tomorrow.”

When asked whether it was the announcement of the Australian Open draw earlier in the day that had been the catalyst for his performance today, Del Potro emphasized his focus on this tournament, saying, “I didn’t see (the draw) yet, and I don’t want to know yet. I think I’m trying to be professional. This tournament is not over yet for me. I have an important match tomorrow, so I try to just be focus on this tournament, on this draw, this schedule. And my team already knows they’re not allowed to talk about Melbourne yet.  My friends, too. If I can be focused just on in tournament it’s much better for me.”

While the second semifinal was being decided between Sergiy Stakhovsky and Bernard Tomic, Del Potro discussed his thoughts on playing Tomic – the eventual winner – saying, “He’s hitting harder his forehand. He been working a lot on that forehand I think. He improve a little bit his game. In the final everything can happen. Doesn’t matter who’s the favorite on the paper. The final must to be play, and tomorrow I can tell you who is the winner.”

Tomic’s win over Stakhovsky was a nervous one, Stakhovsky known as a net-rushing all-court player, and also famously for his upset over Roger Federer at Wimbledon in 2013. In a topsy-turvy affair, Tomic seemed unsettled and less confident than the calculating, aggressive Tomic who had beaten Alexandr Dolgopolov the previous evening.

In the early stages of the match, Stakhovsky was the more aggressive and won the first set in a tie break. While Tomic and Stakhovsky together faced 11 break points in the first set, the second set saw only one break point – on Stakhovsky’s serve – which Tomic converted, to win the set 7-5, taking the match to a deciding set.

Stakhovsky’s unforced errors were a factor throughout the match, and were his downfall in the third set, along with some untimely double faults. Tomic became the more aggressive and relatively consistent player of the two, in a match largely characterized stalemate. Forcing the break of serve at 3-3, Tomic held for 5-3 and broke again to close out the match.

Tomic was realistic about his chances against Del Potro, and gave an honest assessment of his sketchy performance in the semifinal by saying he will need to, “Play the way I played in my first round and the quarters to win.”

Like Del Potro, Tomic – who it was announced today will face world No.1 Rafael Nadal in the first round at the Australian Open – was reluctant to cast his thoughts ahead to next week’s grand slam, saying, “My main priority is tomorrow night, and on Sunday I’ll think about the Australian Open.” When asked again, he said, “Like I said, we’ll talk about it Sunday.”

About Del Potro, Tomic said, “He can play amazing. I have to stick with him to have a chance. He could get tight and I play a little bit differently, so hopefully I can get buzzed up and play my tennis,” also adding that the Argentine’s forehand is the best on tour.

As an overall strategy going into the final, Tomic said, “I know what Juan is gonna be doing.  Obviously he’s very, very good at what he does. This is why he’s there. I have to do something different. I have to play my game. It’s a final. I’ll go out there, have fun, relax, and I’m going for the win.”

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Tennis Results Round-Up for January 9, 2014

Tennis Results Round-Up for January 9, 2014

aickland

AUCKLAND

RESULTS – THURSDAY, 9 JANUARY 2014

Singles – Quarter-finals
[1] D Ferrer (ESP) d G Garcia-Lopez (ESP) 63 57 64
[3] J Isner (USA) d [5] P Kohlschreiber (GER) 67(4) 76(4) 76(5)
Y Lu (TPE) d [LL] S Johnson (USA) 64 64
R Bautista Agut (ESP) d [WC] J Sock (USA) 61 63

Doubles – Quarter-finals

[1] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA) d F Nielsen (DEN) / I Sijsling (NED) 75 75
[2] J Knowle (AUT) / M Melo (BRA) d A Begemann (GER) / M Emmrich (GER) 46 61 11-9
E Butorac (USA) / R Klaasen (RSA) d [3] J Murray (GBR) / J Peers (AUS) W/O – Murray (lower back)
D Bracciali (ITA) / L Dlouhy (CZE) d [4] S Gonzalez (MEX) / S Lipsky (USA) 36 63 10-5

 

SCHEDULE – FRIDAY, 10 JANUARY 2014

CENTRE COURT start 3:00 pm
[1] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA) vs D Bracciali (ITA) / L Dlouhy (CZE)
[3] J Isner (USA) vs R Bautista Agut (ESP)
[1] D Ferrer (ESP) vs Y Lu (TPE)

COURT 2 start 3:00 pm
E Butorac (USA) / R Klaasen (RSA) vs [2] J Knowle (AUT) / M Melo (BRA)    

 moorilla_hobart_logo

HOBART INTERNATIONAL
Hobart, Australia
January 5-11, 2014
$250,000/International
Hard/Outdoors

Results – Thursday January 9, 2014
Singles – Quarterfinals
(1) Samantha Stosur (AUS) d. (8) Bojana Jovanovski (SRB) 63 62
(Q) Garbiñe Muguruza (ESP) d. (2) Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) 64 63
(7) Klara Zakopalova (CZE) d. Alison Riske (USA) 64 75
(Q) Estrella Cabeza Candela (ESP) d. Monica Niculescu (ROU) 36 76(3) 64

Doubles – Quarterfinals
Arruabarrena/Soler-Espinosa (ESP/ESP) d. (3) Buryachok/Kalashnikova (UKR/GEO) 75 61
Niculescu/Zakopalova (ROU/CZE) d. Aoyama/Miyamura (JPN/JPN) 62 46 105 (Match TB)

Order Of Play – Friday, January 10, 2014
Centre Court (from 12.00hrs)
1. Arruabarrena/Soler-Espinosa vs. Raymond/Zhang
2. Samantha Stosur vs. Klara Zakopalova (NB 14.00hrs)
3. Estrella Cabeza Candela vs. Garbiñe Muguruza (NB 17.30hrs)
4. Niculescu/Zakopalova vs. Chan/Husarova (after suitable rest)

 

 sydney

APIA INTERNATIONAL SYDNEY
Sydney, Australia
Hard/Outdoors

Results – Thursday, January 9, 2014
WTA Singles – Semifinals
(Q) Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL) d. (2) Petra Kvitova (CZE) 64 63
(5) Angelique Kerber (GER) d. Madison Keys (USA) 64 62

WTA Doubles – Semifinals
(1) Errani/Vinci (ITA/ITA) d. (4) Kops-Jones/Spears (USA/USA) 63 46 107 (Match TB)
Babos/Safarova (HUN/CZE) d. Goerges/Zahlavova Strycova (GER/CZE) 62 75

ATP Singles – Quarterfinals
[1] J Del Potro (ARG) d R Stepanek (CZE) 64 36 63
[4] D Tursunov (RUS) d D Istomin (UZB) 76(5) 62
[Q] S Stakhovsky (UKR) d [WC] M Matosevic (AUS) 64 63
B Tomic (AUS) d A Dolgopolov (UKR) 64 63

ATP Doubles – Quarter-finals
D Nestor (CAN) / N Zimonjic (SRB) d [4] M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL) 64 36 10-8
J Benneteau (FRA) / E Roger-Vasselin (FRA) d [WC] J Duckworth (AUS) / S Groth (AUS) 64 16 10-6

 

SCHEDULE – FRIDAY, 10 JANUARY 2014

KEN ROSEWALL ARENA start 11:00 am
ATP – L Rosol (CZE) / J Sousa (POR) vs [3] R Bopanna (IND) / A Qureshi (PAK)
ATP – D Nestor (CAN) / N Zimonjic (SRB) or [4] M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL) vs J Benneteau (FRA) / E Roger-Vasselin (FRA)
ATP – [1] J Del Potro (ARG) vs [4] D Tursunov (RUS)
ATP – [Q] S Stakhovsky (UKR) vs B Tomic (AUS)

Not Before 7:30 pm
WTA – [5] A Kerber (GER) vs [Q] T Pironkova (BUL)
WTA – [1] S Errani (ITA) / R Vinci (ITA) vs T Babos (HUN) / L Safarova (CZE)

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Defending Champion Tomic Tops Crafty Dolgopolov

Tomic jacket

By Dave Gertler

(January 9, 2014) SYDNEY – Bernard Tomic has beaten Alexandr Dolgopolov to reach the semifinals of the Apia International in Sydney. It was an entertaining match from the start, both players being known for their crafty and hard-to-predict shots and patterns of play, Tomic with the bigger serve and shots – when he needs them – and Dolgopolov the faster around the court and able to pull the trigger from anywhere.

The first set was very close, with both players hitting purposefully and matching each other shot for shot. Tomic got the first break but Dolgopolov broke back a couple of games later before Tomic broke again, taking the first set 6-4.

After being broken early in the second set, Dolgopolov lost some crispness off his shots, taking a more defensive style of play, which left Tomic to control most of the points. The crowd in Ken Rosewall Arena swayed between supporting Tomic’s on-court performance, and simply being enthralled at the level of tennis they were seeing from both players.

Dolgopolov briefly returned to the level of play that saw him oust No.2 seed Jerzy Janowicz yesterday in the second round, but it was too little too late, as Tomic held on to win the second set 6-3, the match lasting 1 hour and 5 minutes.

Bernard Tomic photo by Paul Gertler

Bernard Tomic photo by Paul Gertler

Tomic discussed his mentality going into the match against Dolgopolov, who’s been ranked as high as No.13, saying, “He’s very difficult to play. I knew as soon as I was playing him it was going to be a difficult match. I don’t like playing him. I played the right tennis. I was very focused and very clear what I needed to do.” Expanding on his tactics for this match, he added later, “I played him so many times I know exactly what he’s going to do and does. I’m just probably lucky he was expecting me to play a little bit more the way I played the few other times I played him. But I didn’t. I didn’t let him get into that zone. That’s why I felt like I had the better advantage.”

Tomic’s acknowledged his good form early in the year, saying, “Every match is getting better and better. I played the first match good and it felt very good, comfortable out on the court today, like in the first round.”

Despite clearly being focused on his campaign to defend his Apia International title, Tomic still had time to discuss the jacket he wore in the post-match news conference. When asked about it, he smiled and said, “It’s from space…It’s a very cool jacket. It’s really unusual.  I don’t know. I like it.”

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering the Australian summer of tennis for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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Pironkova Stuns Kvitova in Sydney

Kvitova

Petra Kvitova

By Dave Gertler

(January 9, 2014) World No. 107 Tsvetana Pironkova will be the first women’s qualifier to reach the finals of the Apia International after taking out the No.2 seed Czech Petra Kvitova in straight sets on Ken Rosewall Arena on Thursday. It will also be her first appearance at a WTA level final.

In order to get there, she has had to play seven days in a row, getting past some of the toughest opponents in both the qualifying and the main draws. Physically she says she’s doing fine, apart from, “Some pains here and there.” She said, “It’s quite normal considering I’ve been playing for seven consecutive days now. But these are not serious injuries. These are normal things that happen to you after so many matches. I’ve had them before. I know it’s nothing to worry about too much.”

Showing a glimpse of the mentality that was her motivation to reach her first final, she said, “This is something I’ve been dreaming about for a long time now and something that I’ve been missing, to go to the final or even have a title. So you can only imagine how I will feel tomorrow on the court. We’ll see what happens.”

Angelique Kerber

Angelique Kerber

Despite her undergdog status, Pironkova has won one of her two previous matches against Angelique Kerber, who will be her opponent in the final after Kerber beat American Madison Keys in just over an hour. It was a convincing win for Kerber, who seemed to make fewer unforced errors as the match wore on, neutralizing Keys’ power-hitting and big serving, making the first set a more even contest – at 6-4 – than the second when Kerber used her lefty forehand to attack Keys’ backhand, taking the set 6-2.

Reaching the final of the first tournament of the year Kerber attributed to simple hard work, saying, “I was working very hard in my off season and trying to play more aggressive in my practice sessions,” saying of Keys that she is, “A great, talented player, and I knew this before the match because I had a great, tough match last year at Melbourne against her. So she served very well today, and I think I had a great return.  I think that was also the key in this match.”

While Pironkova joked that winning seven matches in a row is equivalent to a grand slam, her opponent Kerber sees Sydney as an integral part of her preparation for the upcoming slam next week, saying, “I think for me it’s important to have some matches before a grand slam and to feel good, and, yeah, to know that everything is working.  So that’s why I also decide to play here. I think, yeah, I had right now good matches. Tomorrow I had another one, and then I think I am ready for Melbourne.”

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering the Australian summer of tennis for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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Top Seed Del Potro Pushed by Stepanek

Del Potro

By Dave Gertler

(January 9, 2014) We’re into the sharp end of the 2014 Apia International in Sydney, on a Thursday that features men’s quarterfinals and women’s semifinals matches on Ken Rosewall Arena, with a mix of singles and doubles matches being played on Grandstand Court.

The biggest drawcard of the men’s tournament, Juan Martin Del Potro, had to contend with consistent pressure from Radek Stepanek throughout their two hour and eight minute quarterfinal. After Del Potro served well to seal the first set 6-4, the Czech 35-year-old played high-risk tennis which seemed to affect Del Potro’s confidence and energy levels, particularly in the second set, during which Stepanek outplayed his opponent, ranked 40 places above him, to win it 6-3.

After being broken in the second set, Del Potro was visibly frustrated, and experienced a dip in energy, errors frequently coming off his racquet.

Post-match he described a moment when he almost smashed his racquet, saying, “Yeah, I was close, but I can’t do that yet. When I get eight or ten racquets, I will smash all of them. I will talk before with the chair umpire to don’t call me a code violation or something. I have to be allowed to do that after two years maybe.”

The third set provided some of the most entertaining tennis seen so far in the 2014 Apia International, when Del Potro lifted his game to match the swashbuckling net-rushing of the world No.45. Whereas in the second set, Del Potro had faced eight break points, saving only five, he proved the better player on all the big points, only allowing Stepanek one break point, which he saved. Del Potro’s break came early at one game all, and with the help of a small but vocal Argentinian contingent on Ken Rosewall Arena, was able to hold onto the advantage and take the match 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

Talking about his growing confidence toward the end of the match, he said, “I’m trying to be calm all the time.  I was positive every moment of the match.  Even Radek improve his game during the second set, I was positive, waiting for my chance, and I play a fantastic two pints in the third game of the third set to break his serve. Then I serve okay.  Just doing my job, and I was close the match really calm.”

In the second men’s quarterfinal, Dmitry Tursonov defeated Denis Istomin 7-6, 6-2. Del Potro and Tursonov will meet in Friday’s men’s semifinal.

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering the Australian summer of tennis for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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Tennis Results Round-Up for January 8, 2014

Tennis Results Round-Up for January 8, 2014

aickland

Auckland

RESULTS – WEDNESDAY, 8 JANUARY 2014

Singles – Second Round
[1] D Ferrer (ESP) d [Q] D Young (USA) 67(5) 63 61
[WC] J Sock (USA) d [2] T Haas (GER) 64 64
[3] J Isner (USA) d [Q] L Lacko (SVK) 76(1) 36 62
[LL] S Johnson (USA) d [4] K Anderson (RSA) 75 64
[5] P Kohlschreiber (GER) d H Zeballos (ARG) 64 62
R Bautista Agut (ESP) d [6] B Paire (FRA) 63 64
G Garcia-Lopez (ESP) d S Giraldo (COL) 67(7) 62 63
Y Lu (TPE) d [Q] B Klahn (USA) 67(3) 62 63

Singles – First Round
[Q] B Klahn (USA) d [9] D Brands (GER) 75 46 63
[LL] S Johnson (USA) d [WC] M Baghdatis (CYP) 75 67(3) 64

Doubles – First Round

[1] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA) d J Cabal (COL) / R Farah (COL) 75 61
[4] S Gonzalez (MEX) / S Lipsky (USA) d J Brunstrom (SWE) / O Marach (AUT) 76(2) 63
F Nielsen (DEN) / I Sijsling (NED) d [Alt] R Bautista Agut (ESP) / D Gimeno-Traver (ESP) 64 64
A Begemann (GER) / M Emmrich (GER) d [WC] C Fleming (GBR) / R Hutchins (GBR) 76(5) 63

SCHEDULE – THURSDAY, 9 JANUARY 2014

CENTRE COURT start 12:00 noon
R Bautista Agut (ESP) vs [WC] J Sock (USA)
[5] P Kohlschreiber (GER) vs [3] J Isner (USA)
[LL] S Johnson (USA) vs Y Lu (TPE)

Not Before 6:30 pm
[1] D Ferrer (ESP) vs G Garcia-Lopez (ESP)
E Butorac (USA) / R Klaasen (RSA) vs [3] J Murray (GBR) / J Peers (AUS)

COURT 4 start 2:00 pm
[4] S Gonzalez (MEX) / S Lipsky (USA) vs D Bracciali (ITA) / L Dlouhy (CZE)
A Begemann (GER) / M Emmrich (GER) vs [2] J Knowle (AUT) / M Melo (BRA)
[1] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA) vs F Nielsen (DEN) / I Sijsling (NED)   

 moorilla_hobart_logo

HOBART INTERNATIONAL
Hobart, Australia
January 5-11, 2014
$250,000/International
Hard/Outdoors

Results – Wednesday January 8, 2014
Singles – Second Round
(1) Samantha Stosur (AUS) d. Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 64 26 76(7) (saved 2mp)
(2) Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) d. (WC) Storm Sanders (AUS) 46 76(3) 76(5)
(Q) Estrella Cabeza Candela (ESP) d. (3) Elena Vesnina (RUS) 46 62 41 ret. (hip strain)
Monica Niculescu (ROU) d. (6) Mona Barthel (GER) 76(5) 61
(7) Klara Zakopalova (CZE) d. Zhang Shuai (CHN) 61 62
(Q) Garbiñe Muguruza (ESP) d. Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) 41 ret. (viral illness)

Doubles – Quarterfinals
(2) Raymond/Zhang (USA/CHN) d. Naydenova/Pereira (BUL/BRA) 76(2) 62

Doubles – First Round
Arruabarrena/Soler-Espinosa (ESP/ESP) d. (WC) Rogowska/Sanders (AUS/AUS) 62 26 119 (Match TB)

Order Of Play – Thursday, January 9, 2014
Centre Court (from 11.00hrs)
1. Alison Riske vs. Klara Zakopalova
2. Samantha Stosur vs. Bojana Jovanovski
3. Monica Niculescu vs. Estrella Cabeza Candela
4. Arruabarrena/Soler-Espinosa vs. Buryachok/Kalashnikova
5. Niculescu/Zakopalova vs. Aoyama/Miyamura (NB 19.00hrs; after suitable rest)
6. Garbiñe Muguruza vs. Kirsten Flipkens

 

 sydney

APIA INTERNATIONAL SYDNEY
Sydney, Australia
January 5-10, 2014
$710,000/Premier
Hard/Outdoors

Results – Wednesday, January 8, 2014
WTA Singles – Quarterfinals
(2) Petra Kvitova (CZE) d. Lucie Safarova (CZE) 76(4) 62
(Q) Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL) d. (3) Sara Errani (ITA) 76(2) 63

(5) Angelique Kerber (GER) d. Carla Suárez Navarro (ESP) 62 64
Madison Keys (USA) d. (Q) Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) 32 ret. (lumbar spine injury)

WAT Doubles – Quarterfinals
(1) Errani/Vinci (ITA/ITA) d. Chan/Huber (TPE/USA) 63 62
Babos/Safarova (HUN/CZE) d. (2) Peschke/Srebotnik (CZE/SLO) 75 64
Goerges/Zahlavova Strycova (GER/CZE) d. (WC) Gajdosova/Tomljanovic (AUS/CRO) 36 64 101 (Match TB)

ATP Singles – Second Round
[1] J Del Potro (ARG) d N Mahut (FRA) 16 63 64
A Dolgopolov (UKR) d [2] J Janowicz (POL) 62 62
[WC] M Matosevic (AUS) d [3] A Seppi (ITA) 63 64
[4] D Tursunov (RUS) d L Rosol (CZE) 36 63 63
[Q] S Stakhovsky (UKR) d [6] J Benneteau (FRA) 63 62
D Istomin (UZB) d [7] M Cilic (CRO) 63 64
R Stepanek (CZE) d A Ramos (ESP) 62 76(5)
B Tomic (AUS) d [Q] B Kavcic (SLO) 63 46 64

ATP Doubles – Quarter-finals
L Rosol (CZE) / J Sousa (POR) d [1] B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA) 36 63 14-12
[3] R Bopanna (IND) / A Qureshi (PAK) d T Huey (PHI) / D Inglot (GBR) 67(3) 76(5) 10-3

ATP Doubles – First Round
J Benneteau (FRA) / E Roger-Vasselin (FRA) d [2] L Paes (IND) / R Stepanek (CZE) 64 64
[4] M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL) d C Berlocq (ARG) / A Seppi (ITA) 75 67(2) 10-5
D Nestor (CAN) / N Zimonjic (SRB) d M Llodra (FRA) / N Mahut (FRA) 26 64 11-9

SCHEDULE – THURSDAY, 9 JANUARY 2014

KEN ROSEWALL ARENA start 11:00 am
WTA – J Goerges (GER) / B Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) vs T Babos (HUN) / L Safarova (CZE)
ATP – [1] J Del Potro (ARG) vs R Stepanek (CZE)

Not Before 2:30 pm
WTA – [Q] T Pironkova (BUL) vs [2] P Kvitova (CZE)

Not Before 4:00 pm
WTA – [Q] B Mattek-Sands (USA) or M Keys (USA) vs C Suarez Navarro (ESP) or [5] A Kerber (GER)

Not Before 7:30 pm
ATP – B Tomic (AUS) vs A Dolgopolov (UKR)
ATP – [Q] S Stakhovsky (UKR) vs [WC] M Matosevic (AUS)

GRANDSTAND start 1:00 PM
ATP – [4] D Tursunov (RUS) vs D Istomin (UZB)
WTA – [1] S Errani (ITA) / R Vinci (ITA) vs [4] R Kops-Jones (USA) / A Spears (USA)
ATP – [WC] J Duckworth (AUS) / S Groth (AUS) vs J Benneteau (FRA) / E Roger-Vasselin (FRA)
ATP – D Nestor (CAN) / N Zimonjic (SRB) vs [4] M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL)

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