2014/11/01

Svitolina and Peng Grab WTA Titles This Week

 

(July 27, 2014) Elina Svitolina defended her title at the Baku Cup in Azerbaijan beating 2012 champion Bojana Jovanovski 6-1, 7-6 (2). It’s the first time the tournament’s history that a player has defended her title.

The Ukrainian 19-year-old is the first teenager to win multiple WTA titles since Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova won three titles before turning 20.

Shuai Peng

Shuai Peng

At the 125K event in Nanchang, China, Peng Shuai captured her first WTA 125K Series tournament, defeating Liu Fangzhou 6-3, 2-6, 6-3. Liu was the last player with direct entry into the draw.

“I’m very glad to become a WTA 125K champion for the first time. There were so many people staying with me right until the end and I’m really thankful for the passion they all showed today. I think it’s been a good week for Chinese tennis and I really hope that it will help more and more people to take up tennis.”

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Djokovic dominates Benneteau and Isner Edges Gulbis for BNP Paribas Open Rematch

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

By Kevin Ware

[2] Novak Djokovic defeats Julien Benneteau 6-1 6-3

Benneteau played solid tennis to make it through to the quarters, but the odds were stacked against him in this match-up. With a head-to-head record of 1-5, and that one victory coming back in 2006, chances were slim that he’d be able to mount a sufficient challenge to the current World No. 2.

As expected, the first set was over in just 28 minutes and featured two breaks of the Benneteau serve. This wasn’t surprising with a first serve percentage 54%, and a second serve win percentage is 17%. As his struggles on serve mounted, Benneteau pressed on his groundstrokes, which only made matters worse.

In the end, Benneteau’s 10 winners to 32 unforced errors tell the final tale of this match. He served poorly and, as a result, had to go for too much in his shots against Djokovic. For his part, Djokovic played a clean and straightforward match. He hit 17 winners to 12 unforced errors, won 93% of his first serves, 6 of 8 net approaches, and 4 of 15 break points against the Frenchman.

This was a comprehensive win by all measures. It was also a more consistent performance from Djokovic, who has had issues with keeping his focus after jumping out to early leads.  It was something he touched on in his post-match remarks.

“I felt like I was very focused on the court from the start, and it’s what I was looking for.  First few matches I played good tennis but I had some ups and downs. Today was very stable from the first to the last point.”

When asked about the possibility of playing Isner in the semifinals, his two previous losses to Big John in Masters Series readily came to mind.

“I played John here a few years ago and I remember that match.  7-6 in the third, and also lost to him very close one in Cincinnati last year.”

“It’s very challenging because he doesn’t miss his serve too much, so you have to kind of be able to hold your composure, you know, from the first to the last point and be ready to play three tiebreaks.  That’s all.”

Isner fh

John Isner

[12] John Isner defeats [20] Ernests Gulbis 7-6(4) 7-6(3)

A John Isner win in two tiebreak sets is expected. An Isner win over Ernest Gulbis in two tiebreak sets by pressuring his opponent’s ground game is not. But that’s what happened in their BNP Paribas Open quarterfinal match.

Both players held serve through the first set leading up to the tiebreak. Leading 3-2 in the tiebreaker, Gulbis found himself on the losing end of a protracted rally with Isner. Rattled by the losing exchange, he gave up the next point on his serve after the change of ends. That’s all Isner needed to close out the first set tiebreak 7-4.

Isner surprisingly stumbled at the start of the second set by dropping his first service game at love, giving up the crucial early break. When asked about it after the match, he admitted to a little bit of a “checkout” after winning the first set. “I did.  I didn’t play a great service game at all to start the second set.”

But to his credit, Isner kept his head down and worked to slowly chip away at Gulbis’ game (and confidence) before getting the break back when his Latvian opponent failed miserably to serve out the set at 5-4. After that, a second set tiebreak and eventual win was all but assured.

It was a surprisingly nervy performance from the rising Gulbis: a player with a ton of talent and bravado to match. Isner only hit 13 aces in the match, so he wasn’t aced off the court. He had chances to get into Isner’s service games when he got the ball back in play, but failed to win the key points in rallies.

Isner sensed Gulbis’ issues while also noting how his own game loosened up after dropping that first game. “I had chances to pull back even in that second set prior to that 5-4 game too, but I just stayed with it.”

“Once the second set started to get going, I started to see the ball better and I started to make more progress on his serve.  At the same time, he got ‑ in my opinion, I think he got a little bit looser, as well, started making some more mistakes.”

With this win, Isner is projected to re-renter the Top 10. It also marks his fifth appearance in an ATP Masters Series semifinal.

Men’s Semifinals

[7[ Roger Federer versus [28] Alexandr Dolgopolov
H2H: Federer leads 1-0 (Ret)

[2] Novak Djokovic versus [12] John Isner
H2H: Djokovic leads 4-2

Kevin Ware is in Indian Wells covering theBNP Paribas Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his live updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.  Follow his personal twitter @SFTennisFreak.

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Around the Grounds of the BNP Paribas Open in Photos

(March 10, 2014) INDIAN WELLS – Photographer David Sweet (@DavidSweetPhoto) snapped photos all around the grounds and In the interview room of the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday and Monday for Tennis Panorama News.

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Andy Murray Survives Jiri Vesely in Error-Filled Match

Andy Murray

Andy Murray

(March 10, 2014) INDIAN WELLS – In an error-strewn match, Andy Murray survived No. 77 ranked Jiri Vesely 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-4 on Monday at the BNP Paribas Open.

“Well, the match was a frustrating match.” Said Scot.  “Whether it was the beginning or the end, it was that sort of match where at no stage did either of us play well at the same time.

“You know, I started the match well; he started off the match badly.  He missed a lot of easy shots, and then he started playing consistent, not making errors, and I started missing.

“And, yeah, it was just one of those matches where there wasn’t one period where I thought that, you know, the level of tennis from both of us was high at the same time.

“That can create a lot of breaks and a lot of sort of back and forth swings in the match.

“Yeah.  It wasn’t just the start of the match that was frustrating.  The whole match was.

Playing the 20-year-old Czech for the first time, the fifth seed had 47 of the total 99 errors in the 2 hours and 47 minute match. He was forced to rebound from a break down in each of the last two sets. Both men combined for 32 break points and 14 breaks of serve.

For Vesely who is the youngest in the top 100 of the ATP Tour, he was playing in his first Masters 1000 event.

Jiri Vesely

Jiri Vesely

“I would like to make the game balls that I had in the second and also in the third set, but I was a break up and I was in the second set leading 40‑15 on my serve and the third set I had advantage.

“Maybe if I would use one of these chances maybe I would finish the match.  But, you know, Andy is just a big fighter and he’s guy top 10 which deserves to win.

“So, yeah, just need to take all the positive things from the match and try to keep working hard on myself.

“I was really struggling with myself,” Vesely continued.  “I mean, after I won the first set, which was really exciting for me, and getting the early break in the second set, I just felt really chance to beat this guy until 4‑2 in both sets, second and third, I was playing good without any mistakes.

“But then I always got a little bit tight, and I just felt the chance that I really can beat him.  I think that was maybe the one thing that was painful then in the end.”

“The most important thing today was that I won,” Murray said.  Yeah, I wasn’t happy with the way that I played.

“And, yeah, that’s ‑‑ I mean, it’s kind of days like that where, you know, I could have lost the match and you don’t get an opportunity until Miami to play better or to improve some things.

“Yeah, it’s good to have the chance to play another match here and hopefully put in a better performance.

“It was a very hard match, said Vesely.  “I feel right now physically very tired.  Of course it hurts.”

Murray moves on to play Milos Raonic for a place in the quarterfinals.

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Li Na and Maria Sharapova Advance While Angelique Kerber Falls at Indian Wells

 

 

Li Na

Li Na

(March 8, 2014) INDIAN WELLS, California – No. 1 seed Li Na beat Chinese countrywoman Zheng Jie 6-1, 7-5, while fourth seed Maria Sharapova began the defense of her title with an easy 6-1, 6-4 victory over Julia Goerges.

Two seeded German women fell – No. 5 seed Angelique Kerber was upset 2-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4 by Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor while Aleksandra Wozniack stopped No. 15 seed Sabine Lisicki 7-5, 1-6, 7-6 (5).

Former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic was a set and a break down before stopping Elina Svitolina.

“I just tried to fight her at every point,” Ivanovic said of the turnaround in the second set. It probably wasn’t the best game I had played. I had lot of unforced errors I tried to stick with it and play each point and not try to think about the errors that I made and just to put pressure on her forehand and that worked well for me. I was very happy to manage to come back.”

In the night session, Sloane Stephens ran off the last nine games in a 6-4, 6-0 win over Ajla Tomljanovic. Advancing easily were No. 8 seed Petra Kvitova, No. 11 Ana Ivanovic and No. 12 Dominika Cibulkova.

For Li Na, this is her second tournament since winning the Australian Open.

“This is the first match after Doha, two weeks, and of course for I cannot be 100 percent for the first match,” Li said. “But I was happy. At least I can learn something from today’s match.”

This also marks the first time that Li has been the top seed in a premier mandatory event.

“The first match always tough, because like I say before, you didn’t know what happen on the court,” Li said.  “All you can do is like to try to do your best.  If you cannot hit good tennis, only one way is running all the shots and to fight every point.”

“First time to be the top seed in a big tournament.  Yeah, at least I’m still in the tournament,” she said smiling.

Li will play Karolina Pliskova next in the third round, who took out No. 28 seed Klara Zakopalova 7-5, 6-2,

“The first matches are always a little bit tricky, especially having not played in a few weeks indoor or outdoor,” Sharapova said.

“Tricky opponent, and she’s capable of playing good tennis.  She hasn’t been as consistent as she probably would have liked recently, but she’s had her results.  She’s beaten top players before, so the first round, that’s never easy, but I thought I did what I had to do.  Certainly improvements that I could make.”

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Nadal and Murray Tested as Federer and Wawrinka Also advance at the BNP Paribas Open

DSC_34450547rafa friday photo

(March 8, 2014) Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Roger Federer, and Stanislas Wawrinka all advanced to the third round of the BNP Paribas Open on Saturday.

Both Murray and Nadal were forced to rally for their victories. No. 1 Rafael Nadal was extended by Radek Stepanek 2-6, 6-4, 7-5 on Stadium 1 to lead off the night session.
“Happy to be through, because the start of the match, even if I felt at the beginning I didn’t play that bad, was very quick 4 1, and I felt I was not playing that bad, no?,” Nadal said.
“He is not the right player to play against in the first round. He’s not the right player because what you want to find in the first round is rhythm and against him every point is different. He goes quick to the net. They don’t give you that few games to find your rhythm, to find a way that you want to play.”
Nadal, who injured his back during the Australian Open final spoke about his concern for the past injury and how his serve was affected during the match. “With my serve I was doing nothing. When that happens, the opponent is able to play more aggressive, play more confident and in the end, eight double faults, I give him an opportunity to win a lot of free points,” Nadal said.
“You know, a little bit scared for the back, Nadal continued. “I am not feeling yet 100% confident with my serve. Even if my back is better than Rio in Rio I was feeling the back not very well.

“I am feeling the back better, but probably that match gonna help me to understand that I really can start to serve normal again, because I was serving with limitations, with, you know, no confidence, because I was scared to feel again the back, no?

“I think I can try to serve again at 100%, because I am feeling better. That match show me that I can try.”
Playing for the first time since the Australian Open Murray came back to beat Lukas Rosol 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.
“Here I have always kind of struggled at the beginning of the tournament with, you know, I don’t know if it’s the conditions or, you know, whatever reason it is, but I have never really started this tournament that well,” Murray said.

“I have always struggled, especially in the first round. So, yeah, just have to try to find a way to get through.”
“I was a set and a break down,” Murray said. “I got broken three times in a row the end of the first set, beginning of the second. I just kind of kept going and found a way to win, which is always the most important thing.”

Seventh seed Federer defeated French qualifier Pail-Henri Mathieu 6-2, 7-6(5).

After his win over Ivo Karlovic, Wawrinka spoke about where he keeps his Australian Open trophy.

“The trophy is in Switzerland in a safe place,” Wawrinka said.

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Around the Grounds of the BNP Paribas Open in photos for March 8

(March 8, 2014) Photographer David Sweet (@DavidSweetPhoto) snapped photos all around the grounds  and n the interview room of the BNP Paribas Open on Saturday for Tennis Panorama News.

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Twizzles and Selfies in Notes and Quotes for Saturday at the BNP Paribas Open

 

(March 8, 2014) INDIAN WELLS, California – a quick at the more unusual player quotes from the BNP Paribas Open.

Maria Sharapova who was an NBC Olympic correspondent in Sochi was quizzed on the word “twizzle” after her straight sets win over Julia Goerges.

 Sharapova 382014 IW

 

Q.  Who is the coolest athlete you met, and do you know what a twizzle is?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  A twizzle?  Is that part of figure skating?  Right, right.  I don’t know if that was a trick question.

Who did I meet?  I met a lot of former athletes that were working for NBC, which was like Scott Hamilton.  I don’t know.  It was really bizarre just like having breakfast around each other like it was no big deal.  All these athletes getting together, not actually working on our sport, but that was special.

Q.  Did you and Johnny Weir hang out at all?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Unfortunately I missed him, but I was told we had a coat competition.  Yeah, we tried to upstage each other’s coats.  I brought 12 and he brought 25.  I mean, that’s pathetic.

Q.  Never going to win that battle?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, you never know.

Q.  Would you consult him for designing for Serena?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  That could be fun.  He could design for me, as well.

Serena Williams tweeted her approval for Sharapova’s dress. The Russian was quizzed about this and talked about tennis dresses and how she and Serena Williams could design one for each other.

Q.  I think Serena tweeted during your match that your outfit was totally cute.  She approved.

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Really?  Are those her exact words, Totally cute?

Q.  She said #approved.

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I think we have to exchange designs.  We have to design an outfit for each other.  That would be fun.  Without knowing…

Q.  Cat suit?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, I have to put an end to the cat suit on me (Laughter.)  I mean, I’m 26 already, so I think those days are over.

But that would be fun without telling each other what it is, just unveiling it.

Q.  You would trust each other to do that?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Oh, yeah.  That would be a lot of fun, don’t you think?  You guys would all show up for that, right?  (Laughter.)

We’re going to get great coverage.  Nike is going to be happy.  It’s all good.

Q.  What kind of ideas do you have for dressing up Serena then?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  It’s our secret.  Show up to the unveiling.

Q.  No hints?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  No hints.  I have a few things in mind, a few silhouettes.

 

 

Federer 382014

 

 

 

 

Roger Federer bested Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-2, 7-6(5). The Swiss who has been on twitter about a year was asked about taking “selfies,” as he has recently posted a couple on his twitter account.

Q.  On your year or so on Twitter, you have gotten very good at selfies.

ROGER FEDERER:  Yeah, okay.

Q.  If you could take a selfie with anybody, who would it be?

ROGER FEDERER:  Nobody.  I mean, this is totally for the supporters of me, whoever follows me or a fan of me, whoever it is, the people who do, you know, follow me on Twitter or Facebook.  Just trying to make it fun and different.

Took me a long time to sort of warm up to social media, because I just didn’t know how it’s supposed to be used ‑ even though there is no rule to it.  But I find some people use it in a very funny way and some in a very strange way

First, for myself, I had to find out what was going to be my direction.  I saw it more as giving more sort of the extra, you know, sort of hints, sort of my angle, an extra angle to our life on tour.

So it’s actually become quite enjoyable.  The last thing I want to feel is pressure that I have to take pictures or have to is something.  If I don’t want to post anything for weeks, I have the right to do that and that needs to be the case.

But I must say it’s pretty funny, and it doesn’t stress me out.  You just can’t being sucked into it too crazy, otherwise all you start doing is spending time on the phone, and that’s not what I want to start happening to me.

 

LiNa 382014

Li Na – no more doubles please.

 

Q.  We see a lot of the top players playing doubles at a tournament like this.  Why not you?

LI NA:  I think doubles court for me too small enough (Laughter.)  I don’t know.  Maybe last time I play doubles was 2007.  Or I play Olympics I think with a young girl.

When I was stand up the court I even didn’t know what I have to do.  Even I return, I was feeling the court so small.  Everywhere is people (smiling).  I cannot do it.

So for me, I really, how do you say, focus on my singles right now to see maybe I can, I even can improve a little bit.

Q.  Do you not like doubles?

LI NA:  Not really, no, because you have to, how do you say, talk to your opponent all the time.  Yeah.

Warinka in press

Stanislas Wawrinka and the boring questions.

Q.  Where have you placed the Australian Open trophy?  And when do you think it will start getting boring with all the questions and Australia and all the things you achieved over there?

STANISLAS WAWRINKA:  Well, I think I’m not going to get boring about those questions, you know.  It’s more about being Swiss No. 1 that’s annoying me.

But about winning Grand Slam, I think it’s great.  It’s positive.  So I can answer many few questions if you want.

The trophy is in Switzerland in a safe place

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Ailing Victoria Azarenka Falls at the BNP Paribas Open

 

 

Azarenka

(March 7, 2014) INDIAN WELLS, California –

Nursing a left foot injury, third-seeded Victoria Azarenka fell out of the BNP Paribas Open on Friday night in her first match in more than a month. American Lauren Davis winning 6-0, 7-6 (2).

Azarenka had been off the tour since the Australian Open due to some never damage between her toes. She had to wear a boot on her foot for three weeks.

“Basically, all I had was my fighting spirit,” Azarenka said. “When I’m on the court I try to give as much as I can, even on one leg. I try to do my best in tough situations. That’s part of our job.”

Azarenka is uncertain if she’ll participate in the Sony Open in Miami in 10 days.

“I want to be pain-free because it’s not to the most fun to be out there like that,” Azarenka said.

“It means so much to me,” Davis said.  “My first top 10 win, and just being in the third round of Indian Wells really boosts my confidence.

“I just tried to focus on myself, and, I mean, at times blocked them (the crowd) out.  Because like when you’re up and you’re about to beat the No. 3 girl in the world is kind of a high and you kind of look towards the end of the match.

“So I just really just tried to focus on myself and just block them out.”

The only other seed to fall on Friday was former two-time champion Hantuchova, seeded 29th, losing to American Varvara Lepchenko, 6-3, 6-2.

Other seed to advance included second seed Agnieszka Radwanska, No. 6 Simona Halep, No. 7 Jelena Jankovic, No. 9 Sara Errani and No. 10 Caroline Wozniacki.

On a packed Stadium court 2, 2008 Olympic Doubles Gold medalists Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka paired up for a 6-2, 6-7 (4), (10-6) win over Rohan Bopanna of India and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi of Pakistan.

“I don’t know if it was sold out, but it felt like very, very full,” said Federer. “You’re not probably going to achieve that on center court (which holds 16,100) for a doubles. But that was a perfect setup, a feeling, and we can thank the tournament and (owner) Larry Ellison for building such a court so quickly.”

“It’s nice to see the game grow and seeing people coming out and enjoying it. It’s great. I really had a great time out there with Stan today.”

“It took me time to realize really what I did in Australian Open,” said current champion and No. 3 seed Wawrinka.

“Still when I’m saying that I won a Grand Slam it’s still strange for me, but that’s why it was good to be home during three weeks. It was good to be with the family, to take more time for myself.

 

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Ernests Gulbis Keeps Record in Finals Perfect with Win Over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Ernests Gulbis by Maria Noble

(February 23, 2014) Ernest Gulbis extended his perfect record in finals to 5-0 when he beat defending champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6 (5), 6-4 to win the Open 13 title in Marseille.

The third seed Gulbis upset top seed Richard Gasquet in the semifinals going on to win his first ATP title since the St. Petersburg Open this past October.

Gulbis kept the pressure on Tsonga by playing aggressively, coming to the net. The Latvian hit 14 aces with 41 winners against the Frenchman.

For his efforts this week, the current world 23 will move into the top 20.

“My long-term goal in tennis isn’t to be Top 20” Gulbis said. “It’s to be No. 1. Anything less than that wouldn’t make me fully satisfied. I don’t want to get to 30 years old, look back on my career and say I didn’t make something of it. Everybody’s looking for satisfaction in life and my joy and happiness is based on my tennis career.

“I think [the top players] feel threatened by my game, because they know if I serve well and I’m aggressive, then it’s tough to play against me. I don’t feel I’m in the same league as the [Top 4] yet, I need to prove it. Game-wise, I think that I can be.

“It’s a really nice small record for me. 5-0 is really good. I remember when I used to play Futures and Challengers, I think I lost maybe one or two finals. When I get into finals I really have good form and good confidence and play my best tennis. Today I was serving really well and in the tie-break I was feeling really, really confident.

“I’m very happy right now, but the reality is that you’re back on court in two days. I want to keep both feet on the ground. There’s a couple of big tournaments coming up. It’s been a great week, but I want to build on it.”

For the favorite Tsonga who was seeking a third Open 13 championship, said he had a good week. “It was a high quality match today and I have no regrets. He was very solid and took a lot of risks. It was a positive week for me. It was important to get some matches under my belt. This is important for the confidence. Ernests has a great game and can beat the best players in the world.”

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