Sharapova Crushes Wozniacki for Second Indian Wells Title

Sharapova 1

(March 17, 2013) Maria Sharapova defeated Caroline Wozniacki 6-2, 6-2 to win the BNP Paribas Open, her first title of the year. For Sharapova it her second Indian Wells title, the last one coming in 2006. It’s Sharapova’s 28th career title and first since winning the French Open last year.

Sharapova dictated the match from beginning to end in the 81 minute match. Sharapova compiled 33 winners to a mere two hit by her opponent.

“Of course she was putting pressure on me from the start, ” said Wozniacki.  “She was serving very well.  You know, I felt like everything that she wanted to do today was going in.  I mean, she was making very few errors, and if she did, then it was really at the times where it didn’t really matter.

“You know, I have to say she just played too well today.  You know, I tried.  I tried to do my best out there, but, yeah, it just wasn’t good enough today.”

“The scoreline, you know, looks a lot easier than I think the match actually was, ” Sharapova said.  “I think it was a tough match, a tough battle, and there were a lot of games that went to deuce and a lot of long games.

“You know, they could have easily swung the other way, especially some opportunities she had in that second set.  I always felt like I was always a foot ahead, especially with the breaks.  I was able to serve well today, and that helped me.”

During her run in the tournament Sharapova dropped a total of only 28 games.

Sharapova is now 14-2 on the year and will move up to No. 2 in the world when the rankings come out on Monday, dropping Victoria Azarenka to No. 3. Serena Williams remains at No.1.


More to follow after the news conferences…..


Sharapova Makes Second Straight Indian Wells Final

Sharapova 2

(March 15, 2013) Maria Sharapova reached her second straight BNP Paribas Open final by beating long-time friend and fellow Russian No. 13 seed Maria Kirlenko 6-4, 6-3. Sharapova will play Caroline Wozniacki on Sunday for the title. Each woman has won the championship once – Wozniacki in 2011 and Sharapova in 2006. This will be Sharapova’s first final of 2013.

With Friday’s win, Sharapova will move up to the No. 2 ranking, moving past Victoria Azarenka. Serena Williams is No.1.

“I think I made the first set a bit more difficult than it should have been.  You know, I felt like it could have been up 4‑0,” Sharapova said.

“And she’s someone who has had a few comebacks in this tournament and really good results.  I think this is her best tournament yet.

“So, yeah, I stepped it up in the second set, you know.  First set was a little shady; second set was much better.”

“Still she had some double faults, like few in a row, and still I wasn’t able to break her, Kirilenko said.

“Well, I think the game was quite solid today, you know, from both of us.  Just, you know, she was maybe get a little bit more lucky today somewhere.”

Kirilenko is expected to move up to No. 13 in the world as of Monday, a spot away from her career high of No. 12. “I can say only the positive stuff for this tournament, she said. “ I’m happy the way I’m playing, and so it’s mean that I’m moving to the right direction.”

On Wozniacki, her opponent in the final Sharapova said: “She’s always a tough opponent.  You know, she’s a grinder.  She makes you work really hard on the court and gets a lot of balls back, you know, and has a lot of different variety.

“You know, I certainly don’t want to give her that time or those opportunities, because she’s a really good player.”


Djokovic Extends Win Streak to 19, Murray and Sharapova Advance


(March 10, 2013) After a second set hiccup, Novak Djokovic won his 19th straight match, 13th in 2013 to notch a victory over Fabio Fognini 6-0, 5-7, 6-2 at the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday.


Djokovic was not concerned about his second set lapse. “It’s the first match in the tournament,” Djokovic said. “It’s my first hit this year on the center court. I started really, really good and I felt great physically.


“Mentally I was there, you know. Confidence level is high obviously because of the run I had this year. Game wise, everything works. I had a very bad game on 4 2, couple of unforced errors, got him back in the match. And that’s tennis, you know. Next thing you know we’re one set all and a couple of tight games.


“But look, I’m not concerned, you know. I know I have been in this situation before where I had minor setbacks in a match, especially in the opening matches where I’m trying to get used to the court, the conditions, so forth.


He’s a good player on this surface. I mean, it’s a very slow surface. It bounces high. He loves playing on clay. He loves playing on slow surfaces. He made me work. He made me earn my points.


“In the end, I have done what I needed to do. The W is there, so I feel good about myself.”


Djokovic added, “He (Fognini) is unpredictable as a player, you know. He’s unpredictable with his behavior on the court, also. I mean, I know him really well. We grew up together. We know each other since we were 12 because we are same generation.


“But sometimes it’s funny what he does. Sometimes it’s a bit annoying because you don’t know what’s coming up next. He started playing better.”


The world No. 1 will face Grigor Dimitrov next.

Andy Murray

No. 3 Andy Murray had to fight for a 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 win over Evgeny Donskoy earlier in the day on Sunday. It was Murray’s first win at Indian Wells since 2010 – he lost opening matches in 2011 and 2012.

“I have not played a match for five so you can’t expect to play your best tennis straightaway,” said Murray who has not played since the Australian Open final, where he lost to Djokovic.


Andy Murray

“He started off well and I started off slowly. Even once I got back into the match at 5-all (after being down 5-1 in the first set) he played some good stuff. Once I got into a rhythm, I was able to dictate more of the points.”


“He played some good stuff. He’s quite an easy player. He doesn’t force anything. I think he’s pretty smart on the court, too. He doesn’t kind of go for shots that aren’t on and doesn’t make many mistakes.”


2006 Indian Wells champion Maria Sharapova battled past Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro 7-5, 6-3 move into the round of 16.

The second seed  was subjected to long rallies.

“I thought it was a tough one,” Sharapova said. “I thought.  She’s a quality player.  She’s capable of playing really good tennis.  I think this is, you know, the best that she’s been ranked.

“As far as consistency, this is the most consistent she’s ‑‑ the results have been so consistent in the last year.

“She’s dangerous.  She’s beaten top players in Grand Slams before, you know.  She has a really solid game, a lot of variety, but she can hit the ball, as well.”


Fish Returns to Singles Play for First Time Since US Open

Mardy Fish

(March 10, 2013) American Mardy Fish who has been sidelined with a heart condition since the US Open, defeated countryman Bobby Reynolds 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells on Sunday.


“It’s been a tough few months, for sure,” said Fish.  “It’s nice to ‑‑ you know, you sort of feel like it was a win just to get back out there.  There is a lot of people that have sort of dealt with what I’ve dealt with and not come back.

“It’s nice to just play, first and foremost, and then you get out there and you want to win.  You want to stay within yourself a little bit and not get too fired up or too low or too high or anything like that.

“Then all of a sudden you find yourself in the third set, you know, deep in the third set losing.  You know, some of that sort of fight starts kicking in and you want to win.

“So, yeah, it was nice to ‑‑ I certainly didn’t expect to win, you know, so soon.  The tennis side of it hasn’t been an issue.  I have been playing for quite a while now as far as months is concerned, but just competitive matches, you know, you can’t duplicate those.”

“It’s great to see him back,” Reynolds said.  “He’s great for the game, and definitely for American tennis.  But, you know, knowing that when I was on the court, you know, that wasn’t really entering my mind.  Like, Hey, I’m going to let him win because he’s had a tough struggle.

“But, you know, I felt like I played okay and had chances.  Obviously right there at 4‑3.  But, you know, that’s what kind of separates us from where I’m at and what he’s done with his career.”

Fish the 32nd seed at Indian Wells overcame a break deficit in the final set winning the last four games to secure the victory.

Mardy Fish playing doubles with James BlakewzUXGp9d0hd3ZSCZWhE6QzKc

Fish made his first court appearance on Saturday, pairing with James Blake to win a doubles match over David Marrero and Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 6-4.


Fish will play the winner of Jo-Wilfred Tsonga versus James Blake match in the third round.



Sharapova and Kuznetsova in Notes and Quotes at the BNP Paribas Open

Maria Sharapova


(March 8, 2013) World No. 3 Maria Sharapova had no problems taking out Francesca Schiavone at the BNP Paribas Open on Friday 6-2, 6-1 while 2-time major champ Svetlana Kuznetsova have to overcome a first set bagel to top  18th seed Jelena Jankovic 0-6, 6-2, 7-5.

During Sharapova’s post-match news conference, the media asked more questions about her candy “Sugarpova,”  than about the match.

Asked about her experience in this business venture:

“I think learning, you know.  One of the things that I have really picked up over the many years I have worked with different brands and people is that I never really had a solid education in my career, but I have always liked to listen and I have liked to learn.

“That was my way of learning, is through being in so many different types of meetings, whether they were creative ones, whether they were with advertisement agencies, it was just ‑‑ but at the end of it all, I was just a small part of all those big brands.

“I knew that one day ‑‑ I certainly didn’t really think that it was going to be a couple of years ago ‑‑ I would start my own business.

“Usually you would start something a lot quicker than two years, but it took two years, and I don’t regret any ‑‑ you know, launching it earlier than I did, because it took that much to get it all together and make it into a quality product and something that I really believed in.

“I wanted to do something that was different, that was very unexpected.  You know, I have been part of, you know, clothes collaboration and done things with accessories from Japanese brands to Cole Haan to working on my own collection and Nike. I  even had a perfume back many years ago.

“So I wanted this to be something unique.  And when the name came about right away, I knew that it was going to be candy, yeah.”

On possible expansion and extension of her candy line into other forms of sweets:

“Not at this point.  I see it expanding more into different businesses, whether it’s fashion or cosmetics down the line.

“But I want to get ‑‑ I mean, even though it’s been, you know, beyond my expectations, there are still so many things and so many markets that we need to get, you know.  Where now we have 12 SKUs, and we’re adding three more in a few weeks.  There are so many things to be done.

“Right now we are trying to get around the world, and that takes ‑‑ to get into one country takes at least three to four months before their own food and drug organization, you know, approves everything and ingredients.  Certain countries you have to change certain ingredients for it to be sold there, the labels in different countries have to be changed.  So many things you don’t even think about.”

Svetlana Kuznetsova

A big topic of conversation in Kuznetsova’s news conference was her on-court attire. Her match turned around by changing her outfits:

“Well, for me it’s very difficult to play in cold weather because even I tried to play in the long tight pants first set, I cannot.  I think I can do it every time I go and try, and I know I cannot play in anything ‑‑ wearing anything, because it’s just not comfortable.

“I can practice in it without problem, but when I have matches I always start to lose and I have to take it off and then all the things changes.  I don’t think I started to win because of my pants, but still, I was not moving.  (Smiling.)

“I just had to change things.”

“You know, I thought it was ‑‑ they are very tight (the pants), so they were kind of pushing my stomach so I was not so much comfortable.  It was not bothering me like so much, but after I took it off I was feeling a little bit looser.  So it’s a little bit funny.  Yeah, it’s just the pants, but I don’t blame them.  I mean, it’s all because of me.”

On playing at Indian Wells  and other tournaments during her career:

“You know, other day I was on the radio and they ask, What do you like and what do you not like in Indian Wells?  When I was younger it was too boring for me, this place.  Now I enjoy actually the tranquility of here.  Just everything is fine.

“For me, whole my career is so much ups and downs and I am just used to it, so just going along with it.  Just try to do my best this year wherever I can.”

” I believe I can play good anywhere, and I can play bad actually in the same way.  (Laughter.)

“Not actually in the same way, but I still keep it there.  Bad loses not maybe many people remember, but the wins, it always counts.”

“I mean, of course everybody comes to press, I love this.  You know, you’re tired to listening, I love this.  I mean, for sure you don’t love every week.  This is pretty clear.

“There are smaller ones which are not well organized, and it’s very difficult to go play them.  It’s not like I hate them.  There is always some good things and some bad things.

“But there is events like small you’ve got to take a train, a flight, then a ride, and then this, and then the food is not great.  These events really like I better not go play.

“But big events, I think they’re all quite good.  I mean, there are some things you don’t like about it, yeah, or you like more or less, but big events always pretty well organized.”

Follow Tennis Panorama News‘ coverage of the BNP Paribas Open here and on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.




The Wit and Wisdom of Li Na – 2013 Australian Open Edition

Li Na

( January 27, 2013) Some people call her “Nails.”  In her home country they refer to her as “Golden Flower” or “Big Sister Na.” She is Li Na of China – 2011 Roland Garros champion and  2013 Australian Open finalist, who fell to Victoria Azarenka on Saturday in Melbourne. Li will be ranked No. 5 in the world when the WTA rankings come out on Monday, January 28, 2013.

The 31-year-old who first turned pro in 1999,  has won seven WTA tour level tournaments. She became the first player from an Asian country to appear in a major singles final when she lost to Kim Clijsters in the 2011 Australian Open.  Her career-high singles ranking of No. 4 came in June 2011, the same month when she won her first and so far only major, the French Open.

One of the many joys in covering tennis is attending a Li Na news conference. In these days of media training for all of the players, they are conditioned to give the media “cookie cutter” answers to questions. Not so with Li.  Her answers are candid, refreshing, usually entertaining and come from the heart. Sure, her English is not perfect, but she is well understood.

Chatting with her is like conversing with your “cool” older young-adult cousin who doesn’t care what she says, but is honest without being insulting and makes you laugh in the process. It makes me wish I could speak Chinese so I could understand her news conferences with her home country journalists.

When I was media in Melbourne last year, I never missed seeing Li in action with the media, whether in person in the main interview room or viewing her through my workstation in the media center. Even though I was not in Melbourne this year, I made a point of watching all of her news conferences and reading all of the transcripts. I actually do this for every tournament she’s in, if I’m able to get video and /or transcripts – she’s just that entertaining.

I hope more players take after her “media” skills. She has a journalism degree from Huazhong University of Science and Technology. Perhaps when her on-court tennis career is over she can become a member of the tennis media? Wonder what type of questions she’d pose to the players? But with 31 being the new 21 in the tennis world,  she’ll turn 31 on February 26, I think Li is far from retirement.

Here are some of the more entertaining portions of Li Na’s news conferences throughout the Australian Open fortnight:


Q.  Why do you think you fell down?
LI NA:  Because I’m stupid (smiling).

Q.  There was a controversy in the semifinal between Sloane Stephens regarding medical timeouts.
LI NA:  Hey, this is real injury.  Everyone can saw that.

Q.  Have you ever called a timeout like that? (Asked in reference to Victoria Azarenka calling for a medical timeout near the end of her semifinal win over Sloane Stephens.”
LI NA:  If I’m injured, yes.  If no, not.




Q.  Do you remember the first time you saw yourself on a billboard or in the airport?  Can you talk about what that experience was like for you?
LI NA:  I say, Okay, I know this girl.  No, because, I mean, first time I was a little bit afraid to watch.  I was feeling like, Oh, it’s real.  Because sometimes you think it’s different when you watch.
First time was like, Ah, like this.  And then I look, Okay, okay, it’s you, so don’t worry about.
After the team or the friend say, I think I know this one.  I was like, yeah, yeah, yeah, me, too.  Yeah.

Q.  Do you remember when that was, the timing of that?
LI NA:  I think the huge big one was in French Open, after.  Yeah, because next day I was back to Germany, so I saw in the airport.  I don’t know if it BBC or CNN or something news like   how you say   24 hours.  I mean, Why?  I just win title.  I just go and everyone saw.
Also funny thing is I was bought economy ticket because just so short.
They come and say, We know you just win tournament, so move to business.  I was, Oh, is not bad.



Q.  Yesterday Jo Wilfried Tsonga was asked why top seeded women’s players lose more than the top seeded men.  He said because of hormones, because women are more emotionally unstable. 
LI NA:  And then?
Q.  Do you have any thoughts on that? 
LI NA:  I mean, but for all of the world, why should the man marry for the women?  It’s, how you say, different thinking.  Women’s tour is women’s tour; men’s tour is totally different.  So nothing prepare for that.
Q.  You don’t think hormones have anything to do with it; you think it’s more about tennis?
LI NA:  Sorry about that.  Now I’m only interesting about tennis.  Maybe when I retire I’m thinking about the hormones one day.
Q.  Do you have a theory on why there’s sort of upsets at the top level in the women’s game as opposed to the men? 
LI NA:  I mean, if I’m retire, I will go to university to learn this thing and I can answer you.
Sorry about that.
Q.  Do you feel calmer on the court these days, and why do you think you’re feeling more calm?
LI NA:  Getting a little bit old, getting more experience.  Right now I really   how you say   enjoy for every match.
Also I was working a lot this point in winter training, as well.  Carlos always say, Calm down, calm down.  All the day I was listening too much, like, Calm down.
Li Na
Q.  This is your third semifinal here in four years.  Why do you think this is your best slam?  This seems to be your best slam.  Do you agree?
LI NA:  Yes, I agree.
Q.  Why do you think it is?
LI NA:  I mean, I don’t know.  Every time I was come here I was feeling, I don’t know, just something around with me.  It’s not wrong.
I don’t know.  I mean, maybe I like the court.  Maybe.
Q.  Do you think it being the beginning of the year also helps for you?
LI NA:  What do you want to say?
Q.  I’m saying you work hard in the off season. 
LI NA:  I working hard all the year (laughter).
Li Na

Li Na

Q.  What sort of stuff was he (Coach Carlos Rodriguez) doing to you?  How difficult was the pre season?
LI NA:  I mean, you know, before I was always training in gym for the winter training because I have to see the doctor for my knee.
So last time I was stay two weeks in Germany still for to check the body.  I was with Carlos for two and a half or three weeks in Beijing.  Totally different program, you know.
He was not   how you say   like every day five, six hours, but not only for tennis.  Tennis like maybe two, three hours, but fitness for two, three hours as well.
So, like, when first time I was training with him I was so exciting, but after three days I was dying.  Yeah, because my husband didn’t come with me in Beijing.  I call him and say, Carlos is crazy.  He was like, Why?  I was say the program to him.  He was like, Don’t make the joke.  I say, Hey, listen, I’m not joke.  I really doing this in the morning.
He said, Okay, okay, I will come to you next day.  So next day he was in Beijing.  I was doing some exercise with Carlos.  He was sitting in the gym.  After halfway, he was like, Are you finished?  I said, No, only halfway.  He said, What?  I said, Really, yes.  I do this for three days already.
He said, I’m tired.  I say, Don’t say that.  I’m doing exercises, you’re only sitting.  Don’t say you’re tired.
Yeah, but Carlos   how you say   he was very nice guy but also is tough.  I have to finish all the program.  He will say, Let’s go, continue, with smile.  I can’t say anything.  I have to continue until finish.
Q.  Did you think about quitting at some point, stopping your work with him?
LI NA:  After three days I was really tired.  I was call my husband, I say, I really want to retire.  I say, Now only three days; how be I can continue for three weeks or all the year?
But I think he’s good because you can see until now, I mean, it’s not bad, yeah.
Q.  Maria Sharapova has only lost five games in her first four matches.  Have you been able to see any of her?  What do you think about playing somebody who is playing that well?
LI NA:  At least now I’m in the semis.  She has to play, so…  Right?
Now I can start now to enjoy my day.  She has to fight, yeah.  So that’s better.
The match is on Thursday, so I still have the time to recover.
Q.  If you play her, who do you think Max will root for? (Max Eisenbud is the agent for both Maria Sharapova and Li Na.)
LI NA:  I think Max just eat sugar and be somewhere else.  You couldn’t find him.  Be just like, Oh, good shot, you know.  Yeah, this is Max.  He is going to change something.
Q.  On court you mentioned since your husband stopped coaching you you have a better family life.  Could you tell us a bit more about that. 
LI NA:  We always have good communication.  I mean, just coach and husband is   how you say   tough to find a balance.  He was doing very good job.  But between like husband and the coach for us, both of us, is very tough, yeah.
Because sometimes, you know, if he say, We should do something, I was feeling, I’m tired.  You’re my husband.  Why should you be training me so tired.  But I forgot he’s coach as well.  That’s why sometimes we have to fight, we have to shouting.
The funny thing is I think two years ago, China, someone say I was divorced.  They was asking me.  Because they thinking we always like shouting, maybe we divorced.  They ask me, Li Na, we hear you are divorce.  I say, Already two years, don’t worry about that.
I really have to say I have the same husband for long time, so don’t try to push me down.  Even one day we are didn’t love anymore maybe we should divorce.  This is the life.  We couldn’t always together.
10062012 China Open Li Na flying fh
Q.  Many of the players have a particular rival that they see as their main rival.  Who do you see as the biggest rivalry you have in tennis?
LI NA:  You know, I always try to play my game on the court, so, yeah.  But sometimes I was fighting against myself.  I always waste a lot of energy on the court.
Right now first step I have to follow what I do.  I don’t have to against myself.  So this is big step for me.  Yeah.
Q.  Has your coach helped you stop fighting against yourself?  Is that something that Carlos has done?
LI NA:  Yeah, he try.  He try a lot.  He was try very hard.  I think I doing good job.  I mean, at least not like before.  I have like maybe eight of the ten of the time I have the time for fighting against myself.
Now I try to relax on the court or off the court.
10062012 China Open Li Na in press 2
Q.  In this tournament there are four Chinese females in the main draw and one qualifying male.  Similar proportions in the juniors.  In China, is tennis more attractive to the females than the males, do you think?
LI NA:  They are here.  You can ask all of them.  Because for me, I mean, I was traveling all of the world to play some tournament.  I really can get some information, I don’t know, maybe from Internet or from newspaper.  But all the information from them, you know, so you can ask them.  (Smiling.)


Karen Pestaina is the founder and Editor-in-chief of Tennis Panorama News. She’s worked as a member of the media in the New York City market since her teenage years and tries never to miss a live Li Na news conference when she’s covering tennis tournaments. Follow her and the site on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.

Transcript excerpts courtesy of ASAPSports.