2015/01/30

Kvitova weighs in on Czech Hopes at the Apia International

By Dave Gertler

(January 11, 2015) SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – After rain prevented play for most of Sunday at the Apia International, Monday’s schedule will feature even more high-profile WTA matchups than previously planned. First up on Ken Rosewall Arena, home favorite Sam Stosur will take on Czech world No. 15 Lucie Safarova. Stosur will need all the home-crowd support she can muster, having not beaten Safarova in their last six meetings.

 

No. 2 seed Czech Petra Kvitova on Sunday weighed in on Safarova’s chances of having a standout 2015, saying, “I hope that she can make the top 10. She dreamed for it, and hopefully she can make it. I think that she really had a great off-season as well. We practiced in Prostejov at the end of last year. She came for a week, and we had a practice, and she played really well, she’s in good form.”

 

While the winner between Safarova and Stosur will most likely face No. 4 seed Caroline Wozniacki in the second round, Kvitova along with Safarova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova – Wozniacki’s first-round opponent – are the three Czechs contending the bottom half of the draw. In the top half, up-and-coming Czech Karolina Pliskova will face a qualifier to decide who plays top seed Simona Halep in the second round.

 

Last week in Brisbane, Pliskova surprised her opponent, and the Brisbane crowd, by overpowering Victoria Azarenka in three sets on Pat Rafter Arena, and if she can navigate her way past qualifier Polona Hercog, will most likely find herself on centre court again facing top seed Halep.

 

“She went with us to be part of the team in the Fed Cup, last week of the last season,” said Kvitova of 22-year-old Pliskova, “She was great, she really handled it very nicely, and the practice with her was great, so it was very nice to have her in the team. And hopefully, with these experiences she can have now, she can play better and better. She’s playing well, I have to say, she’s serving so well. So hopefully it’s going to be a very good future for her.”

 

The most interesting matchup on Ken Rosewall Arena will be another feature match between third seed Radwanska and world No. 18 Alize Cornet. While Radwanska has enjoyed three main-tour wins to only one loss to the French player, the French player got the better of the Pole only three days ago at the Hopman Cup in Perth. Radwanska will be hoping to follow up on her Apia International title which she failed to defend in 2014.

 

Women’s defending champion, Tsvetana Pironkova, has won through qualifying to the main draw, and will face Italy’s Flavia Pennetta on Monday on Court 3.

 

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney and is 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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Stan Wawrinka Wins Third Chennai Open Crown

Stan Warinka Chennai

(January 11, 2015) Stan Wawrinka claimed his third Chennai Open title and 8th career tournament win on Sunday, notching a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Slovenian qualifier Aljaz Bedene. It’s the Swiss’ second straight Chennai crown.

“It’s amazing to win again, to start the year with a trophy,” Wawrinka said. “I’m very happy with my level. It was a great final. He (Bedene) has been through the qualifier, beating a lot of seeds and it’s been good for him too.”

The No. 156 Bedene, who had a career week, became the first qualifier to reach the Chennai final.

“Stan played amazing today,” Bedene said. “It’s been a great week. I guess hard work has paid off for me. This is now my favorite tournament for three years and I’ll be back here next year.”

“I don’t want to stop here. I just want to raise my level to the level of Stan’s game.”

“I’m looking forward to the Australian Open,” said Wawrinka the defending champion. “It’s going to be a strange feeling to come back as the defending champion in a Grand Slam. But right now, I want to enjoy this trophy. It’s not every week you win a trophy and it’s really tough to win on the ATP Tour.”

“I feel really happy. It’s tough to win tournaments on the ATP [World] Tour. I feel good, with more confidence [and] feeling well with my game. I’m happy with my game in general, but it’s just the beginning of the season and I hope I can play well all [of] the season.”

The Australian Open, the first tennis major of the year begins on January 19.

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Roger Federer Wins 1000th Match, Claims Brisbane Title

(January 11, 2015) Roger Federer gained entrance into the exclusive “1000 win club” on Sunday when he defeated Milos Raonic 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-4 to claim the Brisbane International title, his 83rd career tournament crown.

The 33-year-old Federer is the third player in the Open Era to earn this achievement, joining Jimmy Connors with 1253 wins and Ivan Lendl with 1071 victories.
“It feels very different to any other match I’ve ever won. 1000 means a lot because it’s such a huge number,” Federer said. “Just alone to count to 1000 is going to take a while. It’s funny emotions right now, but clearly very proud and happy.

“Looking back it’s almost nicer winning this way, through a tight match with nerves and humid conditions against a great player in a final. It means so much more than just running away with it with the score maybe 6-4, 6-4, which was looking very likely at one stage. I guess I was much more happy having to go three sets in the end rather than winning in straight.”

“It was a great tennis match,” said Raonic, who was seeking his 7the ATP World Tour title. “I stayed out there, competed, gave it my all. I gave myself a chance after being down a set and a break. I think it just shows the development I’ve been able to make over the last little while. You put me in that same situation few months and weeks ago and I think I could be out of that stadium pretty quickly.

“Give and take few situations, I couldn’t have asked for a better way to go into the Australian Open. The progress I’ve been making, especially over the last six weeks from physically as a tennis player, technically, and just the way I go about things even mentally, I’m happy with that. I feel like I’m just going to get better over the next eight or nine days.”

Rod Laver and Roger Federer photo courtesy of Tennis TV

Rod Laver and Roger Federer photo courtesy of Tennis TV

Tennis Hall of Famers by Rod Laver and Roy Emerson joined Federer during the trophy ceremony which included ballboys held up 1,000 in big, white numbers near the net. Laver presented Federer with a framed montage of images with the words “Congratulations Roger, 1,000 match wins,” while Emerson handed Federer the trophy named after him.

Next stop for Federer is the Australian Open which begins January 19. The Swiss says he is aiming for more major titles. “Clearly I do believe I have a shot in Melbourne, otherwise I would go home.”

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Stars Descend On Sydney for the Apia International

Julien Benneteau and Ken Rosewall at Sydney International draw ceremony

Julien Benneteau and Ken Rosewall at Sydney International draw ceremony

By Dave Gertler

(January 10, 2015) SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – Stars of the tennis world have been descending upon Sydney over the last days, while qualifying heats have been contested at the Apia International in Sydney. Last year’s women’s champion Tsvetana Pironkova, who qualified and won eight matches in a row at the 2014 Apia International, has had to navigate through qualifying again – albeit as top seed this year – and will make it into the main draw if she defeats American Nicole Gibbs on Sunday. Despite lifting her ranking from outside the top 100 a year ago to where it is now at No.37, that Pironkova still needed to qualify is testament to the depth of the women’s draw at this year’s event.

The tournament’s top seed Simona Halep will arrive in Sydney on Sunday, from Shenzhen, China where she won the tournament.
Petra Kvitova lost in the semi-finals of Shenzhen.
Caroline Wozniacki  arrived at Sydney Airport last night from Auckland, losing her Auckland final to Venus Williams.
Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska will complete the Apia International’s top four seeds when she arrives in Sydney from Perth, where she and Jerzy Janowicz – who will also feature strongly on the men’s side of the Sydney tournament – have won the Hopman Cup in an eventful final against USA’s John Isner and Serena Williams.

Janowicz will continue to be a headline act of Australia’s Summer of Tennis, as he plays young Australian giant-killer Nick Kyrgios in their first round match, which was allotted yesterday during a draw ceremony whose guests of honour included Ken Rosewall and Lesley Bowrey. 2005 Sydney finalist Sam Stosur, as well as 2012 Sydney finalist Julien Benneteau, were also in attendance for their respective WTA and ATP draw ceremonies.

 

While the men’s draw is less stacked than a women’s draw which boasts six top-10 players, Benneteau called the men’s draw, “Very compact,” saying, “Maybe there is not top 10 players, but from the top seeds to the end of the draw, there are tough players between 20, 30, 40, very good players, so I really think that anyone can win on Saturday.”

The men’s top two seeds, Fabio Fognini and David Goffin, will fly surprisingly under the radar at this tournament given that last year’s champion Juan Martin Del Potro, has chosen this event to stage his comeback from injury that has left him sidelined for almost a year. Del Potro flew in on Thursday night and has been using the days since to practice on Ken Rosewall Arena, with some light strapping on his wrist.

 

Ken Rosewall predicted a big year for the new Australian men’s No. 1, saying, “Because of his rapid improvement and his performance at Wimbledon and other senior events, there’ll be a lot of players who’ll be wanting to be in top form when they play against him. Hopefully Nick can remain physically clear without any problems, and he’ll be in good form. But I think there’ll be extra pressure on him this time to kind of stand up to being the number one player in Australia.”

 

At the women’s draw ceremony, Lesley Bowrey, winner of the French Open in 1964 and 1965, had some timely and compassionate words of wisdom for Sam Stosur, who is known for her struggles to win matches on home soil. “I just want to wish Sam all the best,” said Bowrey, “And just go out there and be free and easy, really, and not worry, as you say about everyone else, and what they’re telling you, just play your own game and do what you want to do.” Stosur has been drawn to face Lucie Safarova, the Czech world No.15 to whom she has lost their last six matches.

 

“Look, sometimes when I used to lead in matches, and I used to lose them too,” continued Bowrey, perhaps referring to Stosur’s loss last week in Brisbane to Varvara Lepchenko, after having a match point at 5-1 in the deciding set, “We all do that, it’s nothing new, you just have to find a way. What I used to do is just say, well, if I’m leading 5-1 or 5-2 or 5-3, I’d just tell myself I’m down that, and just take the pressure right off myself. That’s how I used to handle it, just tell myself I’m not leading, I’m down. Tennis is a tough game, it’s a tough sport.”

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney and is 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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Ferrer Beats Berdych for Qatar Open Title

David Ferrer

(January 10, 2015) David Ferrer claimed his 22nd career ATP title after defeating Tomas Berdych 6-4, 7-5 in the Qatar Open final on Saturday.

Berdych hadn’t lost his serve in 34 service games through the semifinals of Doha, but had his serve broken four times during the match.

“I’m very happy,” said Ferrer during the trophy ceremony on court following the match. “I put in hard work this preseason. It’s special winning this tournament. I was ready to play tonight’s match against Berdych … a Top 10 player.”

“First of all, it’s a disappointment to lose the final,” said Berdych. “But on the other hand, it’s been a very solid week. It’s been a couple of good matches. I was not able to execute the right way (today), but I think it’s a good start for me.”

“First of all, David is never tired,” Berdych said. “Not after the match he played yesterday after two-and-a-half hours. I have seen him playing five hours and then he played the next day.”

“In important points I got a little bit lucky,” Ferrer said. “I tried to be confident in the bad moments. I played very good in those moments.”

The 32-year-old Ferrer became the second Spaniard to win the Doha title, the first being Rafael Nadal last year.

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Warwrinka Reaches Fourth Chennai Final

Stan Wawrinka

Stan Wawrinka

(January 10, 2015) Stan Wawrinka will defend his Chennai Open title against Aljaz Bedene of Slovenia, the first qualifier to reach the final in the tournament’s 20-year history.

Wawrinka knocked out David Goffin of Belgium 7-5, 6-3, while Bedene beat the third seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (8) saving four match points in the semifinals on Saturday.

This will be Wawrinka’s four final, looking for his third title on Sunday.

“I lost against him here some years ago and he played amazingly then,” Wawrinka said of his loss to the Slovenian in the 2013 quarterfinals “It’s going to be a really good match, an interesting one for sure.”

For Bedene he is the first Slovenian to make an ATP final since October 2012.

“I’ve worked hard and have been playing well this week,” Bedene said.

RESULTS – SATURDAY, 10 JANUARY 2015

Singles – Semi-finals
[1] S Wawrinka (SUI) d [4] D Goffin (BEL) 75 63
[Q] A Bedene (SLO) d [3] R Bautista Agut (ESP) 36 63 76(8)  – 4 M.P. saved

Doubles – Semi-finals
Y Lu (TPE) / J Marray (GBR) d P Raja (IND) / A Shamasdin (CAN) 57 63 10-8

SCHEDULE – SUNDAY, 11 JANUARY 2015

STADIUM start 5:00 pm
[1] S Wawrinka (SUI) vs [Q] A Bedene (SLO)
[1] R Klaasen (RSA) / L Paes (IND) vs Y Lu (TPE) / J Marray (GBR)

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Sydney and Hobart Schedules for January 11, 2015

sydney

APIA INTERNATIONAL SYDNEY – SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA
USD 731,000
9-17 JANUARY 2015

ORDER OF PLAY – SUNDAY, JANUARY 11, 2015
KEN ROSEWALL ARENA start 12:00 noon
WTA – M Keys (USA) vs S Kuznetsova (RUS)
WTA – [WC] D Gavrilova (RUS) vs B Bencic (SUI)
WTA – L Safarova (CZE) vs S Stosur (AUS)
WTA – A Petkovic (GER) vs [WC] J Gajdosova (AUS)

GRAND STAND start 12:00 noon
WTA – Qualifying – T Pironkova (BUL) vs N Gibbs (USA)
WTA – Qualifying – [Alt] J Konta (GBR) vs K Mladenovic (FRA)
WTA – [WC] A Rodionova (AUS) / O Savchuk (UKR) vs A Medina Garrigues (ESP) / Y Shvedova (KAZ)
WTA – M Erakovic (NZL) / A Parra Santonja (ESP) vs [PR] B Mattek-Sands (USA) / S Mirza (IND)

COURT 3 start 11:00 am
WTA – Qualifying – E Rodina (RUS) vs L Tsurenko (UKR)
WTA – Qualifying – P Hercog (SLO) vs T Babos (HUN)
WTA – A Kudryavtseva (RUS) / A Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) vs [4] H Chan (TPE) / K Peschke (CZE)

COURT 4 start 11:00 am
ATP – Qualifying – M Kukushkin (KAZ) vs D Kudla (USA)
ATP – Qualifying – J Souza (BRA) vs E Roger-Vasselin (FRA)
ATP – Qualifying – V Troicki (SRB) vs N Jarry (CHI)

COURT 5 start 11:00 am
ATP – Qualifying – T Gabashvili (RUS) vs J McGee (IRL)
ATP – Qualifying – S Travaglia (ITA) vs Y Sugita (JPN)
ATP – Qualifying – T Kamke (GER) vs I Sijsling (NED)

COURT 9 start 12:00 noon
ATP – Qualifying – J Smith (AUS) vs A Golubev (KAZ)
ATP – Qualifying – Z Zhang (CHN) vs J Nieminen (FIN)

hobart

HOBART INTERNATIONAL – HOBART, AUSTRALIA
$ 250,000
11-17 JANUARY 2015

ORDER OF PLAY – SUNDAY, JANUARY 11, 2015
CENTRE COURT start 11:00 am
M Puig (PUR) vs K Kanepi (EST)
M Niculescu (ROU) vs [5] S Stephens (USA)
K Nara (JPN) vs [6] K Koukalova (CZE)
M Adamczak (AUS) / O Rogowska (AUS) vs A Tomljanovic (CRO) / H Watson (GBR)

COURT EVENTS TASMANIA start 10:00 am
QUALIFYING – Qualifying – J Larsson (SWE) vs P Ormaechea (ARG)
QUALIFYING – Qualifying – B Krejcikova (CZE) vs K Kozlova (UKR)
J Cepelova (SVK) / A Rosolska (POL) vs C Chuang (TPE) / E Hrdinova (CZE)
After suitable rest – K Bertens (NED) / J Larsson (SWE) vs [2] K Jans-Ignacik (POL) / A Klepac (SLO)
C Chan (TPE) / O Kalashnikova (GEO) vs [4] L Arruabarrena (ESP) / I Olaru (ROU)

COURT HEART FM start 10:00 am
QUALIFYING – Qualifying – L Zhu (CHN) vs R Hogenkamp (NED)
QUALIFYING – Qualifying – S Soler-Espinosa (ESP) vs M Brengle (USA)

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Sharapova Wins Brisbane; Federer a Victory Away from 1000

Sharapova fh

(January 10, 2015) Maria Sharapova won her 34th career title with a 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-3 victory over Ana Ivanovic at the Brisbane International on Saturday. The battle lasted for two hours and 38 minutes.

Sharapova let a 4-1 first set lead slip to the Serbian who came back to win the first set.

“She was doing a lot of things better in the first set, and she deserved to win the first set, but I hung in there,” Sharapova said. “It was important to get that break, and the third set came down to a few points, really. I’m just happy that I managed to get it in three.”

“She had some great comebacks”, ” Ivanovic said. “She got back the balls that I thought weren’t coming over the net. That’s why she’s where she is, and that’s why she’s such a great champion.”

The victory gives the Russian a chance to overtake Serena Williams for the No. 1 ranking depending on the results at the Australian Open, which begins on January 19. Sharapova is within 681 points of Williams.

“I played four good matches against very different types of opponents. Couldn’t have asked for better preparation,” Sharapova said. “Now that I won a tournament, maybe I have a better chance of going higher in the rankings. Right now I am No. 2; the next spot is 1.”

Roger Federer (2)-001

Roger Federer is aiming to become just the third male player, behind Jimmy Connors (1,253) and Ivan Lendl (1,071) to win 1000 career matches on Sunday when he takes on Milos Raonic in the final of Brisbane.

Federer took down Grigor Dimitrov in the semifinals on Saturday 6-2, 6-2 in 53 minutes while Raonic won an intense battle against Kei Nishikori 6-7(4), 7-6(4), 7-6(4).
“I was able to play straightforward tennis, like yesterday, just really aggressive,” said Federer. “Against a really good player, it’s a great result. Happy I didn’t waste much energy like this. I’m fresh for the finals. Probably got a slight advantage over Milos in that regard.”

“It’s a goal for the season, so I still have time to get to a thousand,” Federer said in a post-match interview. “I mean, it’s a really big number, no doubt about it. Love to get it tomorrow. If not tomorrow, I hope it happens at the Australian Open. It would definitely be an incredible milestone to reach.”

 

RESULTS – SATURDAY, 10 JANUARY 10, 2015

WTA Singles – Finals
[1] M Sharapova (RUS) d [2] A Ivanovic (SRB) 67(4) 63 63

WTA Doubles – Finals
M Hingis (SUI) / S Lisicki (GER) d [4] C Garcia (FRA) / K Srebotnik (SLO) 62 75

ATP Singles – Semi-finals
[1] R Federer (SUI) d [4] G Dimitrov (BUL) 62 62
[3] M Raonic (CAN) d [2] K Nishikori (JPN) 67(4) 76(4) 76(4)

ATP Doubles – Semi-finals
J Murray (GBR) / J Peers (AUS) d S Johnson (USA) / S Querrey (USA) 76(3) 76(2)

SCHEDULE – SUNDAY, 11 JANUARY 2015

PAT RAFTER ARENA start 4:30 pm
ATP – J Murray (GBR) / J Peers (AUS) vs A Dolgopolov (UKR) / K Nishikori (JPN)

Not Before 7:00 pm
ATP – [1] R Federer (SUI) vs [3] M Raonic (CAN)

 

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Halep wins Shenzhen Open

Halep fh

(January 10, 2015) Top seed Simona Halep soundly defeated Timea Bacsinszky 6-2, 6-2 to win the Shenzhen Open title on Saturday in China. The 62 minute match gave the Romanian her ninth career title.

“I wasn’t feeling very well before the match – I was a little bit sick – so I told myself I have nothing to lose, just go on court, be relaxed, stay focused and fight for every point,” Halep said. It worked, and I felt really relaxed today. I’m happy I could play better day by day and match by match here. I’m looking forward to playing like today in the next tournament, maybe even better. But I don’t want to put any pressure on myself for the Australian Open. I have to be focused there, and I hope to win many matches there, but it’ll be tough. I’ll just try to do everything I did here.”

Halep’s last title came in Bucharest this past July.

SHENZHEN OPEN – SHENZHEN, CHINA
$ 500,000
3-10 JAN, 2015

RESULTS – JANUARY 10, 2015
Singles – Finals
[1] S Halep (ROU) d [8] T Bacsinszky (SUI) 62 62

Doubles – Finals
L Kichenok (UKR) / N Kichenok (UKR) d C Liang (CHN) / Y Wang (CHN) 64 76(6)

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Venus Williams Wins Auckland for 46th Career Title

Venus wins Auckland

(January 9, 2015) In a face-off between two former No. 1s, Venus Williams rebounded from dropping the opening set to defeat top seed Caroline Wozniacki 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 to win the ASB Classic in Auckland New Zealand. For Williams it was her 46th career singles title. She is second among active players in titles behind her sister Serena.

Williams, who had never dropped a set in five previous meeting with Wozniacki, fought back in the second set, rallying from being down a break after the opening game.

“The first set went fast,” Williams said. “After that I was like, ‘All right, time to take it to three.’ But of course with her playing that well, I had to find a way just to get it to three. In the first set she was serving so well. She had an amazing first serve percentage, all those amazing passing shots, even her mis-hits were too good. But I just tried to stay level-headed in the second set and focus on holding, and cut down on my unforced errors too, and it worked for me today.”

Williams took control in the third set breaking in the third game for a 2-1 lead and held on to win.

Williams hit 40 winners which included six aces.

Williams at 34,  became the fourth oldest winner of a WTA event, behind Billie Jean King, Kimiko Date-Krumm and Martina Navratilova.

“I am an old tennis player now,” said Williams said during the trophy ceremony.

“I waited until I was 33 until I came to New Zealand and that was the biggest mistakes of my life.”

“I want to congratulate Venus for a great week,” Wozniacki said.

“Week after week you work so hard and you have been on tour for so long I have a picture on my phone when I was 12 and you told me to stay in school.”

“I remember telling (Wozniacki) to stay in school,” Williams said. “But I didn’t know you would get so good.”

“Venus played really well,” Wozniacki added. “She’s had a great week. I served really well at the start, and I was putting a lot of pressure on her, but she played better and better as the match went on.”

Top seeds Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci from Italy took the doubles title in straight sets 6-2, 6-1 from Shuko Aoyama of Japan and Renata Voracova of the Czech Republic.

More to follow.

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