2014/09/02

Signature Series: Arthur Ashe to Air on Tennis Channel

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Tennis Channel will celebrate the career of tennis pioneer, devoted activist and Hall of Famer Arthur Ashe in Signature Series: Arthur Ashe during the 2014 US Open. The newest edition to the network’s original Signature Series documentary lineup – Ashe’s first authorized television biography – will debut Sunday, August 31, at 11 p.m. ET at the conclusion of Tennis Channel’s US Open coverage. A complete schedule of episode airdates can be found on the channel’s website at www.tennischannel.com/schedule.

Signature Series: Arthur Ashe delves into the  tennis career, activism and untimely death of one of the most respected athletes of all time. In a pantheon with other 20th Century agents of change like Jackie Robinson, Jesse Owens and Muhammed Ali, Ashe is remembered as a man who broke color barriers and affected human rights issues.  With perhaps nothing more important to him than education and the opportunities it can afford people, of all walks of life, Ashe took a leading role in advancing this cause of using a locker room as a means of promoting the classroom.  The dignity and grace with which he led his life, on and off the tennis court and in the face of his own mortality, remain respected around the world.

“Arthur Ashe’s legacy transcends tennis and even sports, and this is a story that simply had to be told,” said Ken Solomon, chairman and CEO, Tennis Channel. “For the first time television audience will experience Arthur in the context of history and learn why he was one of the greatest social leaders our world has seen.”

An eventual World No. 1, Ashe began as an outsider in tennis, an African-American unable to play junior tournaments – or even walk onto the same court with a white opponent – because of racial segregation laws in his home state of Virginia. He went on to lead the University of California Los Angeles’ championship tennis team, and became the first African-American to play for the U.S. Davis Cup team in 1963. This landmart “first” was one of many in a lifetime of firsts for Ashe.  He later became the first man to win the US Open in 1968, its inaugural year. In doing so, he also became the first – and to this day only – African-American man to win the singles title at the US Open or the U.S. National Championships, as the tournament was known before the Open Era.

Ashe added to his place in history with championships at the Australian Open in 1970 and Wimbledon in 1975, also firsts for an African-American man. Even today his Wimbledon championship upset of Jimmy Connors is considered a match for the ages.  Ashe remains the only black man to win singles championships at the US Open, Wimbledon or the Australian Open. He also, with 1983 French Open winner Yannick Noah of France, became one of only two black men to win a major tennis singles title. He finished his career with 33 titles overall.

This documentary, however, charts the story of not only a Grand Slam champion, but also a lifetime leader, humanitarian, philanthropist and human rights activist who worked with three different U.S. presidents. Known for his character, Ashe’s passionate and tireless leadership translated into many causes – both politically and socially. He protested South African apartheid, championing human rights and serving as a beacon of hope to the people suffering under segregation there. Ashe became such a virtuous example to South Africans that they nicknamed him “Sepo” or “Hope.” After decades in prison, future South African president Nelson Mandela immediately sought a meeting with Ashe upon his release. Ashe was also committed to protesting U.S. crackdowns on Haitian refugees. He was arrested twice while demonstrating his beliefs regarding these issues. Above all Ashe was a fierce advocate of educational empowerment, and gave back to his community throughout his life. Paramount among his achievements may be his role as a founding member of National Junior Tennis and Learning, a non-profit dedicated to helping underprivileged youth through tennis.

“We are humbled to be able to honor Arthur Ashe’s memory in this edition of Signature Series,” said Laura Hockridge, vice president, original programming, Tennis Channel. “His actions as a player have helped to mold the sport as we know it today, and his convictions as an activist continue to inspire people and motivate positive change in the world.”

In 1992, Ashe announced that he had contracted AIDS during a blood transfusion years earlier while receiving treatment after heart surgery. In doing so, he became an early and public face for raising awareness about the disease. Ashe, with his wife Jeannne, helped to bring attention to AIDS by founding the Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS, which generated funds for study into treating, curing and preventing the disease, with the eventual goal of finding a cure. He continued to bring light to the plight of AIDS victims by speaking before the U.N. General Assembly, inciting a call to action for delegates to increase funding for research and see the virus as a global issue. At a local level, Ashe also founded the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health. He designed the institute to address poor health care delivery issues amongst urban minorities. Ashe died in 1993 of AIDS-related pneumonia.

“The greatness of Arthur Ashe was not his tennis. It was the way he carried himself and what he tried to create. He represented so many good ideals and values … and I always believed that America lost a great deal when we lost Arthur Ashe,’ said longtime friend and agent of Arthur Ashe, Donald Dell, in an interview that appears in the documentary.

Spending nine years in the World Top 10, Ashe contributed more to the sport than just great match play and big wins. In response to tennis’ growing popularity and the stalemate of tennis professionals’ earnings, he co-founded the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) with Jack Kramer and others in 1972. The ATP was formed to represent the interests and rights of the men who made their living on the pro tennis circuit. Ashe served as president for two years and went on to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1985. Today he is the namesake of the main venue at the US Open, “Arthur Ashe Stadium,” the largest tennis arena in the world. It was Ashe’s dedication to promoting equality and championing human rights – both in his professional and personal life – that keeps him in the hearts and minds of the public.

Ashe’s family, friends and contemporaries have joined together to help Tennis Channel honor the tennis great by speaking about their fondest memories of him on camera. Each was asked to write a personal letter to Ashe from the present, addressing the ways in which his legacy lives and the changes in the world today because of him.  Read in “Dear Arthur” segments throughout, the letters form the pillars of the film’s structure. His brother Johnnie Ashe, Ambassador Andrew Young, prize winning sports writer Frank Deford and tennis icon Billie Jean King are among those featured.  Other interviewees include contemporaries like all-time great Rod Laver and Cliff Drysdale, and tennis chroniclers Richard Evans and Steve Flink.

Signature Series: Arthur Ashe is a a part of Tennis Channel’s on going  Signature Series documentary lineup. Other tennis personalities and subjects have included Rod Laver, Andre Agassi, Vitas Gerulaitis, Martina Navratilova, Pete Sampras, Rene Lacoste, Bud Collins and the sport’s centuries-old origins.

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‘Age is Just a Number’ – 34-year-old Victor Estrella Burgos Beats 17-year-old Borna Coric at US Open

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(August 28, 2014) From a country more well-known for baseball shortstops than tennis players, Victor Estrella Burgos from the Dominican Republic has advanced to the third round of the US Open.

The 34-year-old Estrella Burgos, playing in his first US Open, took out 17-year-old Borna Coric 7-6 (2), 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

When I asked about playing someone half his age he said: “He half my half age, is true this. But I know he’s a very good player. I check him some video. I had to do some strategy how to play against him because he’s a really good player, he have a very good future. I need to see so much about how he play. I change my game every time because I know he’s younger. But how I said before, the age is just number. From his mind, is very older, I think.”

Despite this being his debut playing the US Open and being the first player from his country to compete in a Grand Slam event, the 80th ranked Estrella Burgos had plenty of supporters with thousands of Dominicans living in New York City and the surrounding areas – and they made their presence felt with loud cheering and chants.

“People from Dominican, I think they are in the party now,” Estrella Burgos said. “They are very happy. This is very special for me, to be came from very, very long way, you know, very down. Nobody play — I don’t have any idea before when I have 18 years old about this tournament, this kind of tournament. But now I’m enjoy so much. This make me like every day, doesn’t matter if I’m 38 whatever, make me strong. Every time when I get into the court, make me strong.”

“Have a big emotion when I serving for the match, serving match point,’” he said. “I cannot believe I’m in this situation. Like I going to make the third round in US Open. Was little nervous and very, very emotional for me. But thank God I got the point.”

Estrella Burgos first turned pro in 2002, but left the sport after having problems in getting money to play the tour. He returned to tennis in 2006 and thought about retiring after he hurt his elbow in 2012. He became the first Dominican to break into the top 100 back in March.

The win puts Estrella Burgos in the third round, his deepest run at ta Grand Slam event where he will play Canadian Milos Raonic, the fifth seed.

“I think I’m going to play stadium or grandstand, I don’t know where, said the 5-foot-8 Dominican who has played both of his matches on Court 6, a non-televised court.

“I think going to be in bigger court. We talking about like how many Dominicans going to come? Today was full, the court was full. I have like thousand coach because all of them, they coaching me,” he said with a big smile. “We are in the game. We going to take the towel. We hear like what they say every time. I don’t know. I don’t know how to word this, but I think they going to buy the ticket for sure to come Saturday to see me play in the stadium.”

 

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News

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Dominican Journeyman Victor Estrella Burgos Sets Sights on Career High Ranking as he Topples Eighth Seed Feliciano Lopez at Citi Open

An Interview With: Victor Estrella Burgos

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Q. We saw some tears after the match point. Must have been very emotional. Can you talk a bit about it.

VICTOR ESTRELLA BURGOS: Of course. Have a big emotion when I serving for the match, serving match point. I cannot believe I’m in this situation. Like I going to make the third round in US Open. Was little nervous and very, very emotional for me. But thank God I got the point. After that I get a bigger tear again.

Q. How did it feel coming into the match knowing you were playing someone half your age?

VICTOR ESTRELLA BURGOS: He have my half age, is true this. But I know he’s a very good player. I check him some video. I had to do some strategy how to play against him because he’s a really good player, he have a very good future. I need to see so much about how he play. I change my game every time because I know he’s younger. But how I said before, the age is just number. From his mind, is very older, I think.

Q. I know your story for a long time. Some visitors came to us, from the Dominican Republic. They were celebrating your win as if they were in the finals themselves. They told us you really came from the dust. Do you know what I mean? It’s really an inspirational story you’re coming here.

VICTOR ESTRELLA BURGOS: First, this is make me very strong because I know where I coming from. I came from like very down. I come from Dominican Republic. I think I opening way to another player. This make me more hungry to do better and better. I’m in the winner, not just for today. I’m in the winner, I’m top 100, I have my enter to US Open. I’m a winner already. But now the winner is very different, it’s bigger. I’m in the third round. I’m very happy. People from Dominican, I think they are in the party now. They are very happy. This is very special for me, to be came from very, very long way, you know, very down. Nobody play — I don’t have any idea before when I have 18 years old about this tournament, this kind of tournament. But now I’m enjoy so much. This make me like every day, doesn’t matter if I’m 38 whatever, make me strong. Every time when I get into the court, make me strong.

Q. The crowd was crazy today. Do you expect to play in the stadium your next game?

VICTOR ESTRELLA BURGOS: Really the thing, I was talking with my physical coach, my physical trainer. We talking about if you play again, I think I’m going to play stadium or grandstand, I don’t know where. I think going to be in bigger court. We talking about like how many Dominicans going to come? Today was full, the court was full. I have like thousand coach because all of them, they coaching me, you know (smiling). We are in the game. We going to take the towel. We hear like what they say every time. I don’t know. I don’t know how to word this, but I think they going to buy the ticket for sure to come Saturday to see me play in the stadium.

Q. How much do you think these two matches have taken out of you physically and emotionally?

VICTOR ESTRELLA BURGOS: First physically, too much for me is not nothing. I feel like very good. Emotionally really big. I think is more bigger, emotionally is more bigger than physically. I feeling very good. I think I’m going to be ready for Saturday. I’m going to be so hungry to get into the court to play again.

Q. You had a bad line call that got you a little upset. Also when you took the injury timeout. You stayed focus. Is that one of your main strengths? How do you stay focused with so much distraction between the crowd, the player, the bad line call?

VICTOR ESTRELLA BURGOS: We are professional. We working in that, you know. He call the trainer. He was up 3-0. He call the trainer after I broke him. The match was 3-2. I get in very good time. He call the trainer. I don’t think he have anything because he running like crazy. But I just keeping focus in the court. I saw my coach. He tell me, Move, get focus. That’s the only thing. I don’t thinking what he have, what he doing, just thinking I have to be focus on keeping warm for make the next match.

Q. Why is it happening now at the latter stage of your career? Is there anything different?

VICTOR ESTRELLA BURGOS: I think is happening now because this had to happen now. I think when I have 20 years old, I tell you before, I don’t have any idea about the tournament. Because in Dominican, we don’t have this. I think for me this is the best time. This happen now. I had to get like very good, very simple for me. I think now is now. I cannot go back. I cannot start to thinking why this doesn’t happen when I have 20 or 22 or 24. Now it happening when I have 34, I very happy.

Q. You reached the third round. You’re living the American dream in New York. How do you think this will change your life and how do you want it to change your life?

VICTOR ESTRELLA BURGOS: No, I don’t think this going to change my life. Going the same life. Tennis player. Different level now, of course, because I get my new ranking, going to get very good ranking. But I think going to be the same Victor, the same Victor working every day very hard, happy in the locker. When I have challenger ATP, I going to be the same. Nothing going to change.

Q. I know you have quit your career already a few years ago. Do you feel less used because you were not playing for some years? Secondly, how far do you think you can go in the rankings?

VICTOR ESTRELLA BURGOS: I stop, I quit to play I think for four year and a half, like professional. I didn’t traveling. But I’m keeping in tennis because I play Davis Cup for Dominican. I think my dream was I want to make — with my team we talking about which ranking I want this year. I say I want to be top 50. This is what I want now. After that if I get, I have to start to next step. Now I going to get to the top 50. This is what I want now. I just thinking about that.

Q. Do you feel less used because you were not playing for those four years?

VICTOR ESTRELLA BURGOS: Yes, for sure, because I have like long time. Just play two times per year, like Davis Cup. Also physically I not used so much. I don’t have this before, like traveling 25 week per year. I don’t have this before.

Note: As website-only media covering the US Open as media,  Tennis Panorama News has special permission to post interview transcripts per the USTA.

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Murray Puts Cramps Behind Him in Thursday’s win at the US Open

Andy Murray smiling

(August, 28, 2014) FLUSHING MEADOWS – Eighth seed Andy Murray left the cramps he had earlier in the week in the heat behind him as beat Matthias Bachinger in the cool, breezy evening of the night session in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Thursday 6-3, 6-3, 6-4.

“It was extremely windy today,” Murray said. “That was the hardest part about the conditions. Yeah, just very, very breezy. Difficult to play sort of close to the lines or anything like that. But I hit the ball well considering, served better, and obviously I moved a bit better today, as well.”

Murray’s opponent in the next round will be against Andrey Kuznetsov of Russia, who rook out 31st seed Fernando Verdasco.

“He’s had a couple big wins in the slams this year,” Murray said. “He beat Ferrer at Wimbledon and obviously today against Verdasco. I’ve never played him before. I don’t know his game that well, but I’ve seen him play a little bit. He hits the ball pretty flat. Likes to go for his shots a lot. This court’s fairly quick, so that will probably help him, as well. But I’ll watch a little bit of video tomorrow evening, try to understand his game a bit better.”

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Bell Tolls for Cici Bellis at US Open

 

(August 29, 2014) FLUSHING MEADOWS – American Cici Bellis, the youngest player to win a match at the US Open since Anna Kournikova back in 1996 fell to 20-year-old No. 48 Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan 6-3, 0-6, 6-2 on Thurday night in the second round. For Bellis who knocked out 12th seed and Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova, Bellis, her Grand Slam and tour level debut comes to an end.

“I think what surprised me is that I could really, like, stay with these pros,” Bellis said. “And I think today if I had, you know, played a little bit better, it would have been a different result. But, yeah, I mean, definitely just that I can, you know, play with them is really good.”
The 1208th ranked player was supported by fans who waited hours on Court 17 to get a chance to see a potential rising star.

“It was great,” Bellis said of the support. “I love when people watch me and support me like that. So it really, you know, helped me a lot.”
“Like this whole experience has been unbelievable, like mind-blowing,” Bellis said. “It’s been crazy. It’s been like the best couple days of my life.”

“I think in the beginning of the match I was, you know, nervous and I was a little tight,” she said. Then the second set I became freer. Third set, I mean, she just kind of played better than me. I wasn’t playing as well as I would have liked to, but it was a really good experience, I think.”

Bellis earned her way into the US Open by winning the USTA Girls’ 18s National Championship to qualify for the wild card.

As for the Californian competing in the Juniors next week, Bellis said: “

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“I think it’s definitely going to give me more confidence, you know, going into the juniors and definitely believing that I can beat, you know, whoever I play in juniors, for sure, if I play well. So I think it just gave me a lot more confidence.

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It’s Deja Vu All Over Again and Again for John Isner and Philipp Kohlschreiber in the Third Round of the US Open

ISnerparty with the pros

(August 28, 2014) FLUSHING MEADOW – For the third straight US Open American John Isner will be playing German Philipp Kohlschreiber in the third round.

On Thursday, Isner was on target with his serve firing 30 aces past No. 77 Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany to win 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-2.

The 13th-seeded Isner hit 30 aces and saved the only break point he faced in a 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-2 victory over 77th-ranked Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany on Thursday at Flushing Meadows. The 22nd seed Kohlschreiber advanced to the third round when Michael Llodra retired with an injured left elbow.

In a “weird” and “bizarre” circumstance as Isner put it, he’ll be facing the German at the US Open yet again.

“I have beaten him more times than he’s beaten me overall,” said the 13th seed. “But he’s beaten me here. No matter where I play him I know the match is going to be tough because he’s an extremely good player. Very good. I thought, you know, our matches the last two years have been pretty high quality. I remember last year I wasn’t disappointed with how I played. You know, he just played better than me. Simple as that. In a few days’ time I’m just gonna have to try to be better than him.”
“I’m very excited. It’s going to be another fun match,” Isner said.

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Novak Djokovic Crushes Paul-Henri Mathieu to Reach US Open Third Round

DJOKOVIC

(August 28, 2014) FLUSHING MEADOWS – Novak Djokovic wasted no time on Thursday in dismantling French man Paul-Henri Mathieu at the US Open. The No. 1 seed earned a place in the third round by a 6-1, 6-3, 6-0 score in 87 minutes.

“I wanted to get my job done as quick as possible,” said the Serbian. “I don’t feel like I need to play long matches to get into the groove. I mean, I feel that I’m hitting the ball very well. Second match even better than the first one. Under the circumstances I think I came up with a very good performance. Stayed mentally tough and not allowed myself to get frustrated because of the wind and conditions that were obviously very tough for both of us.”
The 27-year-old Djokovic will face American Sam Querrey next. Querrey upset 28th seed Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.

Djokovic talked about the upcoming match against the American.

“Sam is playing in front of his crowd. I’m sure that he’s going to have some good support. But on the other hand, if we get to play on center court maybe night session, that’s where my experience kicks in, I think. I have had a lot of matches, night sessions if we get to play, as I said, and try to neutralize his serve that is his big weapon. If he serves well he’s very dangerous. I saw a little bit of his match today and he played great. He’s in good form, good shape, and has nothing to lose. It’s going to be a tough one.”

Djokovic is 7-1 against Querrey.

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Serena Williams Demolishes Vania King in US Open Second Round

Serena Williams

(August 28, 2014) FLUSHING MEADOWS - Serena Williams, getting over a poor serving start, demolished fellow American Vania King 6-1, 6-0 in the second round of US Open on Thursday. The win gives two-time defending US open champion Williams a 16-match win streak at the final major of the year.

“I’ve been working really hard,” Williams said. “The results just hadn’t been coming in the slams. I started to get some really good results this summer, and that’s given me a lot of confidence going into this last Grand Slam of the year.”
“She never let me in,” said King to media. “She’s played at such a high level for so long, and I used to watch when I was a kid, growing up. So it’s kind of surreal to see the person that you’ve been watching on TV in front of you and playing. It was difficult.”

Williams is just a major title away from equaling Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert at 18.

“I’ve had three tries to get to 18, and it hasn’t happened, so…,” the 32-year-old Williams explained. “We’ll see, you know. Hopefully I’ll get there one day. I’m kind of stuck right now at 17, which to be honest is not a bad number to be stuck at. It’s better than 16. I honestly am really proud of everything I’ve been able to accomplish in my career. I can’t really be upset about anything.”
Williams finished her day with a doubles win with her sister Venus to win their first round match.

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“My Rhythm Was Really Off,” Ivanovic Upset at US Open

Ana Ivanovic with media 08092012

(August 28, 2014) FLUSHING MEADOWS – Former No. 1 and 2008 French Open champion Ana Ivanovic lost control of her serve and her groundstrokes to suffer a second round defeat at the US Open on Thursday to No. 42 Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic.

The Serbian hit seven double-faults along with 29 unforced errors in the 7-5, 6-4 loss.

“I had great leadups to every Grand Slam,” said Ivanovic. “I played a lot of matches and won lot of matches. And big matches, as well. At the Grand Slams I just haven’t performed that well. It’s something that I’m definitely going to work on and see where I can improve, because that’s definitely, you know, big aim for me for next season.”

“It was very tough out there for me today,” she said of the loss. “I really struggled to find my rhythm and made way too many unforced errors. Yeah, it was just really bad day. She served well, and she played good at important points, but I think I just did not play as well as I did.”

Ivanovic gave credit to her opponent: “She served very well. I also thought she actually moved quite well considering her height. She had a good reach. She does hit the ball quite flat. You know, she played well in important points and made some good shots.”

“My rhythm was really off,” said the 8th seed.. And, yeah, my forehand wasn’t working at all. I made quite a lot of unforced errors from that side and I couldn’t rely on it. I felt like I was not pushing her out wide enough and I was not opening the court, because I wasn’t confident enough. It was a little bit gusty out there. But like I said, I really feel like I was not pushing her enough.”

Pliskova moves into the third round and will face 29th seed Casey Dellacqua.

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Venus Williams Moves into US Open Third Round

Venus Williams

Venus Williams

(August 27, 2014) FLUSHING MEADOWS –  Nineteenth seed Venus Williams is into the US open third round for the first time in four years, stopping Switxerland’s Timea Bacsinszky 6-1, 6-4.

The 2000-2001 US Open champion who at 34 is the oldest woman left in the draw had been eliminated in the second round three straight years.

“I’m happy,” said Williams. “I won a match again. Finally I did something I couldn’t do the last couple years. That’s good stuff.

“I feel like I’m playing well. I feel like I play my best when my opponent pushes me really. Once we start to, you know, really start to get into a slugfest, I feel like I really relax. Sometimes I feel like when they aren’t pushing me as much maybe I’m a little too passive at times. I don’t know. But I do feel like, you know, when things get tight, I feel like I can rely on myself to compete really well. So that’s a good feeling.”
Next up for the 7-time major champion will be Sara Errani, a former French Open finalist. Williams says she’s ready for the challenge.

“Really just focus because she’s so focused,” Williams said. “She does everything well on the court clearly, because she’s a great singles player and a doubles player. Every time I’ve played her, I’ve had to be focused on every single point, because she does not let up on any point no matter what the score is. If she’s down 5-Love, 40-Love and never won a game in the match, she is in there still to win the match. That’s my main thing: to stay focused and play my game.”

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Sharapova Rebounds to Gain US Open Third Round

 

(August 27, 2014) FLUSHING MEADOWS – Last year Maria Sharapova sat out the US Open with a shoulder injury. This year the Russian found herself battling to stay in a second round match against Alexandra Dulgheru, down a set and facing a break point.

Sharapova came back to take the second set and outlasted the Romanian 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

The world No. 5 felt that fitness was the key to her victory over No. 95.

“She played really well, “Sharapova said “Although I started off really good in the first couple of games, didn’t take the opportunity to go up 3-0. After that she started getting a little bit of a rhythm. It was difficult. Obviously the conditions were tough. You start in the sun; you finish under the lights. It was a very long match. Overall I felt like in the end I was in much better shape than she was and I could have played another few sets. Mentally that helped me a lot.”
In the end, the inflammation in the Romanian’s right wrist which limited her play in the past five weeks, resurfaced.

“I think you always expect yourself, no matter who you’re playing, the conditions, you always want to play well, win the match easy, Sharpaova said. “Sometimes it’s good to kind of look back and think in these types of situations, conditions, all of that. It’s really good to get through, put yourself in a really tough position, but then you’re able to find a way to get back and finish really strong.”

Sharapova is in for a major test in the third round when she faces 2013 Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki, who just this past July hit the fastest serve for a woman at 131MPH.

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