2015/05/29

Novak Djokovic Defeats Rafael Nadal to Reach Monte Carlo Final

(April 18, 2015) Novak Djokovic extended his current winning streak to 16 matches with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Rafael Nadal in the semifinals of the Monte Carlo Masters on Saturday in one hour and 37 minutes.

No. 1 Djokovic will meet Tomas Berdych in final on Sunday. Berdych dismissed Gael Monfils 6-1, 6-3 earlier in the day

The Djokovic – Nadal semifinal was much closer than the score indicated. In the first set Djokovic had to rebound from 0-2 with points to go down 0-3, taking six of the last seven games to claim the first set.

In the second set, Djokovic broke serve in the seventh game, after the 8-time Monte Carlo champion Nadal led 40-0. The Serb ended the match with a second break of serve in the set.

Djokovic hit 23 winners to 19 unforced errors in match to the Spaniard’s 20 winners and 20 errors.

Djokovic is now 10-1 against Top ten opponents in 2015. Djokovic has improved his head-to-head record against Nadal to 20-23.

Djokovic will be looking to claim his fourth straight Masters Series title and second Monte Carlo crown on Sunday.
RESULTS – SATURDAY, 18 APRIL 2015

Singles – Semi-Finals
[1] N. Djokovic (SRB) d [3] R. Nadal (ESP) 63 63
[6] T. Berdych (CZE) d [14] [WC] G. Monfils (FRA) 61 64

Doubles – Semi-finals
[1] B. Bryan (USA) / M. Bryan (USA) d [4] M. Matkowski (POL) / N. Zimonjic (SRB) 64 62
S. Bolelli (ITA) / F. Fognini (ITA) d [2] I. Dodig (CRO) / M. Melo (BRA) 76(6) 63

SCHEDULE – SUNDAY, 19 APRIL 2015

COURT CENTRAL start 11:30 am
[1] B. Bryan (USA) / M. Bryan (USA) vs S. Bolelli (ITA) / F. Fognini (ITA)

Not Before 2:30 pm
[1] N. Djokovic (SRB) vs [6] T. Berdych (CZE)

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Serena Williams Wins Eighth Miami Open Title

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(April 4, 2015) World No. 1 Serena Williams took home her eighth Miami Open trophy on Saturday defeating Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2, 6-0 in the final.

This was the American’s 66th career title victory, which leaves her one behind Billie Jean King on the All-Time list.

All-time WTA titles leader Martina Navratilova who won 167 singles crowns was in attendance to present the winner’s trophy to Williams who won her third Miami title in a row. Her career record in Miami is now 73-7.

Williams became only the fourth women to win the same title at least 8 times. Navratilova holds the record for the most number of titles at a single tournament – 12 in Chicago.

It’s also Williams’ second tournament title of the year, the first one coming at the Australian Open adding her 19th major title in January.

The final which lasted 55 minutes, saw Williams win the last ten straight games, losing only five points in the second set.

“When I play with Serena I know that she’s the best,” Suarez Navarro said. “She has the game to make me play bad.

“But, well, this time I believe in me, in how I’m playing the other match. I try. I try until the last point, but was tough and was difficult for me.”

“I just kind of went out there and was hitting,” Williams said. “I didn’t have a plan it hit to her backhand or forehand. That’s never really my plan. I just can’t do that. I get too worked up.

“I just got to play my game. I’m not the kind of player that’s like, Oh, her forehand is weak, so I’m going to hit 100% there. I can’t do that.”

Williams remains unbeaten on the year and has won 21 straight matches since her loss in the Round-Robin stage at the 2014 WTA Year End in Singapore.

Asked about possibility of winning a calendar Grand Slam, she said: “Obviously anyone that wins the Australian Open wants to win a Grand Slam.

“I’ve won the Australian Open six times and I have not done that yet. I’m not saying this is the year or not the year. Who knows?”

Williams had to withdraw from the semifinals of Indian Wells two weeks ago with a knee injury.

Although a dominant winner, Williams felt she could have played better during the tournament. “I had to improvise in some of my matches,” she said. “Quite frankly, I had to take some pace off today because I wasn’t serving the way I normally serve. I normally serve tons of aces really hard.

“This tournament I wasn’t serving my best. On the flip side, it’s good to know that I can win relying on my groundstrokes or relying on other shots. It’s not just one shot that makes me good. It’s an all‑court game.

“It’s comforting, but at the same time, I definitely want to get my serve going again. I just really haven’t had time to practice. I’ve just been dealing with injuries, and when I’m practicing I’m hitting groundstrokes and just not hitting enough serves.”

For Suarez Navarro, despite the poor performance in the final, it was a career week for the Spaniard who will be the third Spanish woman to break into the Top Ten for the first time next week.

 

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Djokovic and Murray to Meet in Miami Open Final

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

(April 3, 2015)Sunday’s Miami Open men’s final will feature a battle between a pair who have won multiple times in Key Biscayne when No. 1 Novak Djokovic takes on Andy Murray.

Djokovic, who will be going for his fifth Miami crown, moved past hard-serving John Isner in Friday night’s semifinal 7-6(3), 6-2. Murray, who will be attempting to capture his third Miami Open title, defeated Tomas Berdych 6-4, 6-4.

Djokovic outserved Isner 10 aces to nine. Djokovic never faced a break point. After a very tight first set, Djokovic broke Isner’s serve twice in the second set. Isner lost 70 percent of his second-serve points.

“I didn’t quite have my legs underneath me like I did yesterday maybe for whatever reason,” Isner said. Conditions, it was a little bit more humid out there tonight. I didn’t have quite as much pop on the ball as maybe I had earlier in the tournament. I needed a lot of pop in order to make a match like that closer. I just didn’t quite have it tonight.”

 

“I created a lot of opportunities for myself in the first set, even though there was only one break point and it was actually a set point,” Djokovic said.

 

“I thought I made him work for his serves games a lot from the beginning. I thought that that has influenced a little bit his physicality. I think towards the end of the first and beginning of the second set he already felt a business exhausted, and I wanted to use the opportunity and the early break in the second to open the door for me.

 

“That’s when I felt like I could start swinging through, and played a great second set.”

 

Despite the loss, Isner had a good fortnight in Miami, beating three top 11 players in succession – Grigor Dimitrov, Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori en route to the semifinals

 

“Novak is the best in the world,” Isner said. “He’s so good. It was a good two weeks for me. I’m playing better. I have to build on this, and I will.”

 

‘He’s No. 1 in the world for a reason. I had to play pretty close to my best to beat him, and I don’t think I did that tonight.”

 

Mubadala World Tennis Championship

This will be the Scot’s 13th Masters Series final and fourth Miami final.

“I felt like I served well,” said Murray. “It was tricky from one end of the court. We’re basically serving right into the sun at that time of day, so I had to take a little bit off the serve. On the second serve it was very tough to see.

“But I thought when I was behind in games, like the last game, for example, I came up with some big serves and was able to dictate a lot of the rallies from the baseline as well. I was moving him around a lot. That was good.”

Murray’s win has evened up his record against the Czech 6-6.

“Andy changed the game plan a bit,” Berdych said. “He starts to play much more aggressive in those last two matches that he played to me. I think that he’s been doing that pretty well. I think that’s the only reason.

 

“So, you know, I’m just going to need some time to put myself ‑‑ prepare better for the next time I’m going to play him.

Now I know what to expect and just be more ready for it.”

 

“Well, I thought I obviously started both sets well,” Murray said of the early breaks in each set. “Yeah, that was really the difference, to be honest. We played some good points. I thought throughout the match I thought it was a pretty clean match.

Yeah, I felt like I just played a bit better than him. That was the difference.”

Murray on playing Djokovic in the final: Novak obviously started the year extremely well obviously winning Australia, and then also last week, too. He’s come through a couple of tough ones so far in this event.”

 

As for Djokovic on playing Murray: “The fact that I won I think last six, seven matches that we played against each other, especially the one just recently in Indian Wells, gives me confidence and maybe a slight mental advantage.

 

“But we’re talking about small margins. That’s always the case when we play against each other. Very few points, details can decide a winner. We have very similar games. We already played twice this year, and of course in a big match in Australian Open final which was very, very physical, very close.

 

“I expect a battle, long rallies, and I know what is expecting me on the court. I know his game pretty well, as well as he knows mine.”

Djokovic leads in head-to-head clashes with Murray 17-8

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Serena Williams, Djokovic, Suarez Navarro and Isner Advance in Miami

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(April 2, 2015) Serena Williams will attempt to win her eighth Miami Open title on Saturday. The 19-time major champion won a two-hour-and seven minute semifinal thriller on Thursday night over third seed Simona Halep 6-2, 4-6, 7-5. Williams will face 12th seed Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain the title.

“I made so many errors and I was like `Serena, just come to the net at this point, because that’s the only thing that was working for me,'” Williams said. “I’m just really happy to get through that. It was actually a really fun match and I was able to come out and play here tonight.”

“I just tried to make some shots and I tried to go for some big shots,” Williams continued. “I thought, I’m just going to go for winners. Even though I’m missing most of them, I’m still going to go for them.”

“I just made more errors than I did in my last match, which I thought was impossible. I’m just not at my best level right now and it’s a little frustrating.

“I’m not serving well. I am serving at 40%. Yeah, so it hasn’t been my best of times. But, yeah, so that’s just the only frustrating part.

“And I’m a perfectionist, so if I don’t get it right I just want to keep trying.”

 

Simona Halep

Simona Halep

Halep said: “I was close. I saw that I can win against her. I can play like until the end against her. I was a bit tired in the end, but it’s normal. I have so many matches played already.

“It’s okay. She was better than me. She is better than me because she’s No. 1 in the world and she’s Serena. I have just to take the positive things from this tournament, this match, and just go ahead.”

Williams’ victory means that her time atop the rankings has reached 116 weeks which surpasses Chris Evert’s 113-week run for third-longest in WTA history.

Suarez Navarro 2182015-001

Suarez Navarro advanced to the final after beating Andrea Petkovic 6-3, 6-3 in an earlier match. Her victory in the semifinal assured her of reaching the Top Ten for the first time in her career.

“I feel so happy,” said Suarez Navarro. “It’s so important for me. I was practicing and I was working during all this year with my team to a moment like this.”

Williams is 4-0 against the Spaniard. “Playing Carla,” said Williams, “I think it’ll be good for me. She’s playing a little bit like Simona, so I will be ready for that. Have to be ready. If I want to win, I have to step it up a notch”

Williams is 4-0 all-time against Suarez Navarro, who’s assured of reaching the Top 10 in the world rankings win or lose.

Williams’ countryman, No. 22 seed John Isner became the first U.S. man to reach the semifinals in Miami since Mardy Fish in 2011, upsetting fourth-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan 6-4, 6-3.

Isner interviewed

“I played extremely well today,” Isner said.”I needed to play well in order to beat a player like Kei and that’s what I did. From start to finish, I felt like I was aggressive. I was playing all the right shots and things just went my way.”

“I can’t ask for better conditions out there,” Isner continued. “I absolutely just can’t.

“You know, with the balls, the court, the balls bouncing high, it’s hot, it’s not that humid so it’s not taking a lot out of me. It’s perfect conditions ore me.

“I just played well. I mean, I’ve been serving well really for a while now, and I did that again today.

“So I was taking care of my serve. I was taking my chances on his serve, and the ball was finding the right spots for me.”

“Serve, I didn’t have any chance,” said Nishikori.

“Also, his forehand, also backhand, he hit some winners from back of the baseline. I think he close his eyes and hitting so many winners. Couldn’t really stop him today.

“So I don’t think I really play bad. Maybe I could do little better everything, but I think he played well today.”

 

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

Next for Isner will be No. 1 Novak Djokovic who defeated David Ferrer 7-5, 7-5 on the Spaniard’s 33rd birthday.

“I expected it to be a very physical match as it always is with David,” Djokovic said. “He’s one of the greatest competitors out there.”

“Every game is different, and I think tonight, my tactic, it was good,” Ferrer said. “My performance was good, playing aggressive with my forehand. But I think it’s difficult beat Nole when I am playing with him in the night because the ball is bigger when we are ending the set. And he has more power than me.

“Anyway, for beat Nole, I know I have to play perfect in important moments, play aggressive. And maybe tonight, the first set in important moments I didn’t play aggressive, no, with my forehand.”

Djokovic commented on playing Isner next:

“It’s going to be quite different match from tonight’s match. John is probably the best server we have in the game currently. At 6’10” he can hit any angle he wants with that serve.

“He won against Dimitrov, Raonic, and Nishikori in the last three matches, and that deserves a lot of respect. He obviously feels very confident playing here. He played great against Nishikori today.

“I think he improved his baseline game. Most of the players, when the play him, obviously he highly relies on his serve, but yet again, he does put a lot of balls back in play in his return games. He likes to run around his backhand and hit the forehand inside out. That’s his favorite shot.

“So I kind of know what to expect. He has his own patterns, as everybody else. I’m going to try to analyze his game, remember what I’ve done right in Indian Wells couple weeks ago, and try to obviously win.

“Hopefully we play during the night so the conditions will be a bit slower, which is going to maybe help me to get few more serves back in play, even though I know it’s going to be very close match.”

 

I’ll have nothing to lose,” Isner said. “I run into him a lot in Masters events, especially in the U.S. I think this would be our fourth encounter or something like that, playing at a Masters event in the States. Maybe fifth. I don’t know.

“But playing him, it’s always a challenge. He’s the greatest player in the world right now hands down. I played well against him last week in Indian Wells and he beat me in a tight two‑set match.

“I’m going to have to bring that level and some if I do play against him. I believe I can do that. Think I exhibited that today. He’s got a tough match against one of the best competitors or sport has.”

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Serena Williams Wins 700th Match; Will Face Simona Halep in Miami Open Semis

(April 1, 2015) Serena Williams overcame some inconsistent play to earn her 700th career win in defeating Sabine Lisicki 7-6 (4), 1-6, 6-3 to earn a spot the semifinals of the Miami Open on Wednesday.

Her 700th win puts the American in a very select club which has only eight members.

“I didn’t know I had 700 wins,” noted the 19-time major champion.

“So now I’m like I just want to keep going, doing the best that I can. Just staying positive and winning as much as I can.”

“I grew up playing tennis. I think my destiny was to play tennis,” Williams said. “I saw a picture where I was in a stroller on the tennis court.”

The seven-time Miami Open champion has now won 16 straight matches in Key Biscayne.

Williams made 51 unforced errors on the day, had some problems with the sun and served well below her usual efforts.

“I know today wasn’t my best day,” Williams said. “I just told myself, I’m not serving the way I normally serve and hitting the way I normally would hit, so at this point all I can do is just fight and try to give 200% instead of 100%.

“At the start of the third set it was definitely a little bit of a natural reaction. Obviously I don’t want to lose, or at least I want to try to do the best I can. She had a lot of momentum going into the third set after winning the second set, so I just wanted to stay strong, and basically hold my serve.”

 

Williams will battle No. 3 Simona Halep for a place in the final. The Romanian defeated American Sloane Stephens 6-1, 7-5.

“I look forward to it because I didn’t get to play her last time,” said Williams. “I was really disappointed to not be able to play and just not even be close to 100%.

“So, you know, I look forward to it this time. I’m just happy to be in the semis and still be alive somehow.”

Simona Halep

Simona Halep

“It will be a very nice match,” Halep said after he win. “I have to try everything. She is No. 1 in the world. She’s the best player. I have nothing to lose.”

“I have just to play aggressive like I did today at the beginning the match. I think this is the most important thing to have to the chance against Serena.

“So I just want recover my body until tomorrow and to be ready it hit the balls.”

No. 9 Andrea Petkovic will face No. 12 Carla Suarez Navarro in the other semifinal on Thursday.

Andy Murray fistpump

In men’s action, two-time Miami champion world No. 4 Andy Murray advanced to the men’s semifinals by rallying past unseeded youngster Dominic Thiem 3-6, 6-4, 6-1. Murray will play No. 8 Tomas Berdych next.

“At the beginning of the match I didn’t return well, especially returning his first serve,” said the Scot. That put me in sort of a defensive position a lot when he was serving. I ended up doing quite a lot of running there.

“Returned the second serve well, but everything he made a first serve I was returning short and he was dictating all of the points.

“I thought on my own serve was doing fine. I just played one bad game, and my return game let me down a bit in the first set.

“Then, again, the second set I went up and I was creating quite a lot of opportunities, which was good, but just not quite finding the right shot.

“I think in the third set the difference was really my returning. Returned his first serve extremely well. I put him on the back foot. When I was returning the first serve well I was able to dictate points when he was hitting his first serve, and on his second, and then on my first serve as well.

“So when you’re sort of able to control 75% of the points, makes a huge, huge difference. That’s the most pleasing part for me.”

It was a career week for the 21-year-old Thiem who reached his first Masters 1000 quarterfinal.

“Before this week I would have given a lot for the quarterfinals, but now of course in the first moment I’m a little bit disappointed, especially I won the first set,” said the Austrian. “I played a good match.

“But, yeah, I will leave Miami positive for sure and with a good feeling for the clay court season.”

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Rain Washes Out Some Matches in Miami – Halep, Azarenka and Stephens Advance

Simona Halep

Simona Halep

(March 27, 2015) Rain saw the cancellation of some late afternoon matches and the evening session at the Miami Open on Friday including Serena Williams’ opening match. Saturday’s new schedule will be announced.

Miami Open – Official Statement from Tournament Director Office Regarding Tickets

Third seed Simona Halep who took home the BNP Paribas Open title, just last Sunday, won 6-4, 2-6, 6-1 against wild card Nicole Vaidisova. Vaidisova a former two-time Grand Slam semifinalist and once No. 7 in the world, is back on the tour since retiring and coming back from multiple shoulder surgeries.

 

Sloane Stephens

Sloane Stephens

In the all-American battle on Stadium court in the late afternoon, No. 45 Soane Stephens defeated No. 17 Madison Keys 6-4, 6-2.

In the first meeting between both women, Stephens broke Keys’ serve five times during the match. Keys had 36 unforced errors during the match to only 14 winners.

“One of those days where didn’t quite have the feeling; couldn’t really find it,” Keys said.

 

“Sloane played really well. I thought in the first set I kind of had a chance to come back and maybe get into the match a little bit more, but a couple of bad points here and there and it kind of just got away from me.”

 

“It was windy,” Stephens said. “The conditions weren’t that great.

 

“Because I know going out there I had to play my game and stay focused and really focus on myself. I tried to do that the best I could. Obviously the conditions were tough, so I was just happy to get out with the win.”

 

“It’s always really good to see Sloane playing well,” Keys commented on her past Fed Cup teammate. “I thought ‑ I knew ‑ it was going to be a tough match.

 

“You know, she just played better than me today. You know, wishing her all the best and hoping she goes deep now.”

 

“I just go out and play my game and stay focused,” Stephens said. “Obviously she’s a great player. I knew I had to go out there and execute.

 

“That’s what I did out there with the tough conditions. I was pleased with myself.”

 

“I know Maddy is going to have a great career,” Stephens said.

 

“I am going to see her for like the next 10 years of my life consistently. I’m looking forward to seeing her get better and keep playing and doing what she’s doing now.”

 

 

Stephens will match up against Sweden’s Larsson, Johanna, who defeated 10th seed Lucie Safarova.

 

Victoria Azarekna

Victoria Azarekna

Former Miami champion Victoria Azarenka is into the third round of Miami by beating world No. 20 Jelena Jankovic 6-1, 6-1.

The former No. 1 Jankovic was 0-13 on break point chances.

“I just really tried to stay focused and tried to find a way to stay in the game,” Azarenka said. I had to save a couple of break points right away, and then there was, you know, this battle.

 

“I know that Jelena is a fighter. Doesn’t matter what score it is, she will not give up. Some of those rallies she just went for it, and I felt like I wasn’t that aggressive on some points.

 

“So I just had to stay focused and stay tough and try to find a way to finish the match. You know, in those moments that’s what I really look for right now, to be able to step up my game when it’s needed.”

 

Azarenka, a former No 1 who has been plagued with injuries over the last two years, is currently ranked No. 36 in the world and trying to regain her form.

 

More to follow

 

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“This one I think I played a lot smarter” – Cici Bellis Defeats Zarina Diyas in Miami for some U. S. Open Revenge
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“This one I think I played a lot smarter” – Cici Bellis Defeats Zarina Diyas in Miami for some U. S. Open Revenge

(March 27, 2015) Fifteen-year-old wild card Cici Bellis exacted some revenge on 29th seed Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan at the Miami Open on Friday with a dominating 6-2, 6-1 win.

 

The young American lost to Diyas in the second round of the 2014 U.S. Open. The match before that, the current world No. 211 made some noise in the first round of Flushing Meadow when she upset 2014 Australian Open finalist and world No 12 at the time, Dominika Cibulkova. Bellis was the youngest player to win a match at the U. S. Open since 1996

 

Bellis broke her Diyas’ serve seven times during the match which lasted 76 minutes.

“This one I think I played a lot smarter,” Bellis talking about Friday’s win over Diyas to media. “At the US Open I was really like caught up in, you know, all the kind of hype that was going on.

“But this one I was just really focused and played my game. I think I did what I needed to do to win really well.”

“I think every single part of my game has improved since the US Open,” said Bellis. “I mean, just from today, like I lost to her at the US Open, which was I don’t know how many months ago, like eight months ago or something, and today I beat her 2 and 1.

“So I think everything in my game has improved. I have been working really hard, extremely, extremely hard since the US Open just for that. I think it’s really paying off, so I’m really happy.”

Bellis could face world No. 1 Serena Williams in the third round. Williams plays Monica Niculescu on Friday night in a rematch of her third round match just two weeks ago at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.

“I mean, it’s going to be really fun,” she said of the possible match against the 19-time major champion. “I have nothing to lose, so I’m just going to play my game and see what happens.”

Asked about what her mindset will be going into a possible match against Williams, she said: “Just don’t really think about who I’m playing. It’s just, you know, another one of my opponents that I’m playing. Doesn’t really matter who it is.

“We are all in the same tournament, so we are all kind of at this level. You can’t really think about who you’re playing. It’s just a ball that’s coming back on the other side of the court. You just have to go out and not think about that stuff and just play your game. That’s what I’m planning to do.”

Bellis, who will turn 16 on April 8, has not decided if or when she will turn professional.

“Amateur,” she said. “I haven’t decided yet, but I think just keep my amateur status for a little bit longer, just, you know, in case.”

After the Miami Open, Bellis plans on playing in the WTA tour event in Charleston.

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Maria Sharapova Upset by No. 97 Daria Gavrilova at Miami Open

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova

(March 26, 2015) Maria Sharapova was looking for her first title at the Miami Open, a rare event in which she has never held the trophy going 0-5 in finals. The Russian is still looking for that crown in Miami, as she was upset by countrywoman and wild card recipient, world No. 97 Daria Gavrilova 7-6(4), 6-3 on Thursday night.

For the 21-year-old born in Moscow and resides in Australian, who just broke into the top 100 just days ago, it’s her first win against a Top 10 player, the biggest win of her career.

The first set of the match saw both women break each other’s serve, with Gavrilova moving to a 5-3 lead. Sharapova fought back, taking the next three games. The younger Russian held on to send the set into a tiebreaker, which she won 7-6 (7-4). The set last 68 minutes.

“I was down 6‑5 and I was up 5‑3 and it was 30‑All, and I was just thinking, Okay, be tough, be tough; you can do it,” said Gavrilova.

“I had some negative thoughts at that time, but I kind of got rid of them and just kept going.”

The wild card jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second set, then moving out to a 4-1 advantage. The world No. 2 fought back to win the next two games to cut the deficit to 3-4, but her opponent broke back for 5-3 and served out the second set and the match 6-3.

On court was an elated winner: “I’m just so excited, I’m so happy, I can’t explain it,” she said. “I always believed and that’s probably why I won!”

“I was very composed. I told myself to keep believing and keep trying.”

Later at her post-match news conference, Gavrilova elaborated on her belief in being able to defeat Sharapova. “I played Angelique (Kerber) twice this year, and I played Simona (Halep) last week. I was pretty close I thought all this time. I just thought, Okay, you can do it. You’re probably at this level right now.”

Gavrilova, who is making a comeback from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee back in 2013 broke Sharapova’s serve four times during the match.

She talked about the journey from the ACL injury to recovery and the night’s big win: “I remember last year I was crying. I was like, Oh, it’s so boring doing this rehab. Blah, blah, blah. It all paid off at the end. I just have to keep going.”

“I was injured. I had a knee surgery last year. So I had a pretty rough time.”

Asked if she was surprised about the defeat, the No. 2 player said: “Well, it’s sport, and I happened to lose the match. Of course it’s a bit of a surprise. It’s the first round. I’m expected to win.

“But I think that’s, you know, one of the reasons why we play the matches, is you still have to go out and win it no matter if you’re the favorite.

“Today I didn’t.”

“I mean, I had little times where I did come back, but I was always behind. I put myself in a situation that was too far behind to come back from.”

“I still can’t realize that it’s my dream,” said Gavrilova. I have been dreaming about beating Maria since I was probably 12 when I saw her win Wimbledon, when she beat Serena.

“I was like, Oh, I really want to play her and beat her. I was probably visualizing beating her since I was 12, yeah.”

“She runs a lot of balls down,” Sharapova said, evaluating her opponent’s strength. “I was committing a lot of errors off of those balls and not really staying patient and just going for, you know, too many maybe winners, not moving forward enough.”

Sharapova committed 34 unforced errors during the match.

Sharapova said that she’ll be playing Fed Cup for Russia when they take on Germany in Sochi, Russia the weekend of April 18-19.

“I was actually talking to my coach and my physio,” Gavrilova said. “I’m saying, I’m not going to sleep tonight because my phone will be going off.

“And I said, Oh, I’ll turn my Wi‑Fi, 4G, 3G, everything off and sleep and get ready for the next one.

Next for Gavrilova, she’ll face No. 54 Kurumi Nara in the third round. Nara upset 25th seed Caroline Garcia 6-7, 7-6(9).

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Pospisil Spoils Del Potro’s Return

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(March 26, 2015) Returning to the court for the first time since January 15, Juan Martin del Potro‘s recent attempt at comeback from wrist surgery ended in a first round loss at the Miami Open on Thursday.

Canadian Vasek Pospisil defeated the Argentine, who is currently ranked No 616, 6-4, 7-6 (7).

For Pospisil, it’s his first-ever win at the Miami tournament.

Del Potro’s rustiness showed in the second set when he failed to serve it out up 5-4 and then squandered set points in the tiebreaker, double-faulting twice, which led to match point against him.

“Obviously down there I wanted to win the match, and I had few chances in the first set; then in the second set I know I have set points, but I couldn’t close the set because I had easy efforts and easy mistakes,” del Potro said.

“I didn’t serve well in the special moments, which is tough for me with all of these things.

“But now I’m okay. I don’t have any physical problem after the match, and I will be recovering soon for the future.”

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“I didn’t really know what to expect,” said the Canadian in regard to taking on del Potro.

“That was a little bit added stress maybe before. But at the same time, I was just trying to focus on serving well and playing my game and trying to put pressure and coming to the net.”

“Whether he had pain or not, you know, it’s obviously not the same backhand that he normally plays,” Pospisil added. “I tried to take advantage of that by coming in and putting pressure on that side.

“But, you know, he’s still serving well and hitting his forehand huge, which made it tough. I just hung in there, you know, maybe got a little bit fortunate at the end. He was serving; had set point on his serve; but then the rest of the way I played well.”

The 2009 US Open Champion admitted that he still is not at 100 percent: “I’m not confident 100% to hit my best backhands yet.

“And I also need time to improve my backhand again. I already been hitting backhands the last 10 days in one year, which is very ‑‑ it’s very bad to play in this level.

“But I am working hard. I am working hard every day little more on my backhand. I think it’s the only way to get to pass through all of the things and get well for the future.”

“It’s just a wrist problem. Of course mentally you must be strongest enough to deal with the problem and get up every morning to do your treatments and rehab and stay calm, looking forward for the future.

“I’m not hurried to be in the top 10 very soon. I want to play tennis. It doesn’t matter how long it’s take me to be in the top again. Just wanted to play tennis and without pain.”

“It’s only 2 months after my second surgery and my left wrist. I feel better week by week, but it’s still very early to feel 100%.”

“It was like a Davis Cup atmosphere,”  said the 24-year-old Pospisil of the lively crowd cheering for his opponent. “I felt like I was playing away somewhere.

“It was a great atmosphere. Whether everyone is cheering for me or against me or if it’s equal, you know, when there is a big crowd and when they are into it, it’s always more enjoyable for everybody. I was enjoying it more, and actually might have helped me a little bit in the end, to be honest.”

The Canadian will take on No. 9 seed Grigor Dimitrov in the second round.

As for the 26-year-old del Potro, he’s taking his comeback one day at a time: “I think it’s the most important be patient and stay calm, and also try to be positive.

“I got depressive for a while in the past. I have been talking with (Janko) Tipsarevic, as well, at the locker rooms. He knows a lot about the injuries, about comebacks, and doesn’t make it.

“But in the end, I want to play tennis. If I have to learn a different backhand to keep playing, I will do it.

“But now I’m trying to do all my things to fix the problem and hitting my backhand as I did in the whole ‑‑ all my career. I am still positive.

“I think is the biggest goal for me trying to keep trying and stay mentally strong enough to go through all of the injuries.”

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Serena Williams Hopes to be Ready to Take the Court on Friday at Miami Open

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(March 25, 2015) MIAMI, FL – Just days after withdrawing from her Indian Wells semifinal against Simona Halep with a knee injury, Serena Williams, now at the Miami Open, the two-time defending champion, hopes that she’ll be ready to play her first match on Friday.

“I’m okay,” said Williams giving an update on her health. “I’m just managing where I am right now. Just trying to stay out of as much pain as possible and see what happens.”

“I know I’m going to have to manage the pain. I think if I’m in that mental state, okay, you might be in a little pain. You just have to figure out the best way around it.”

Why not, skip the tournament all together? Williams just lives practically down the road from the event in Palm Beach County. On top of this, she’s won the event a record seven times.

“I didn’t think I would be doing this interview today,” Williams said. “I stepped on the court (to practice on Wednesday) and I was just like, I love this place. You know, I love playing at home. I live just down the road.

“So, yeah, it takes a lot. It takes a tremendous amount for me to stop. Yeah, so I don’t know if that’s a good thing or that’s a bad thing, but I think I will be okay.”

The real test for the 19-time major champion will be when she takes the court on Friday against second round opponent Monica Niculescu of Romania.

“Probably on my first match, if I get that far,” the world No. 1  said. “So, yeah, I don’t want to put too much pressure on it before.

“I’m just here in Miami, so I’m just going to go for it and see what happens.”

Williams just defeated Niculescu in the second round at Indian Wells just last week and won the match 7-5, 7-5.

“Well, I definitely don’t have low expectations,” said the American. “I just definitely expect to do the best that I can. Whether that’s winning or just stepping out on the court, that’s what I’m going to have to do.

“Again, I don’t feel any pressure because I have won this title a few times, so I feel good about being here. When I hit on the court today, just something about Miami, you know. I just feel so good out here.

“So I was like, Oh, this is fun. I’m just looking forward to just enjoying myself this year more than anything.”

“I think every player has pain. I said this before. I don’t know any player that goes out there without pain. Every match I play, I mean, I could be 10% in pain or I could be 80% in pain. It just kind of depends how you feel and how can you manage that.

“Knowing ahead of time the problems that you’re dealing with, usually you have a good way. Okay, we’re dealing with this problem and this is how you treat it, so you can be able to play at a high level.

“Now that I kind of know what’s going on, I’m able to treat it and be able to play at a higher level than I would have been able to play a couple of weeks ago.”

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