March 25, 2017

Rafael Nadal Begins Another Quest for First Miami Title; Venus Williams Wins Late Night Match

Rafael Nadal

(March 24, 2017) Rafael Nadal began his quest for his first Miami Open with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Israel’s Dudi Sela on Friday at the Miami Open in Key Biscayne, Florida.

 

The Spaniard is playing in this tournament for the 13th time in his career. Although the 14-time major winner has never taken home the Miami trophy, he’s been a finalist four times – in 2005, 2008, 2010 and 2014 coming within two points of the title against Novak Djokovic.

 

“I think I was four times in the final. Probably I should win the first one.”

“Then I have another good chance, but I was in the final against Novak (Djkokovic).

 

“6-5, 15-30, didn’t happen,” Noted the fifth seed, and the other two finals I didn’t play very well, no?”
“I think probably even if I was not in the final, the year that I was closer to win was the year that I got injury against (Andy) Roddick in that semifinals. Was winning – never easy against Andy, no – but I have the match a little bit under control and I get injury of my knee, no, and then I lost in three sets.

“I was playing great that year. I thought that was my year. But in tennis is always the same. Life the same. “You have opportunities. If you don’t convert these opportunities, then it’s tough, no?

“But I am still playing tennis and I am still here fighting for the things that motivates me. My motivation is play enough well to have chances here.”

 

The top two players in the world, combining for 8 Miami titles, will give someone else a chance to win this year as both six-time champion Djokovic and two-time champion Andy Murray, withdrew with right with elbow injuries.

 

Venus Williams

In the women’s field, 23-time major champion Serena Williams pulled out of both Indian Wells and Miami with a knee injury, but older sister Venus, the 11th seed opened her tournament with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Beatriz Haddad Maia in the last match on center court during evening session.

 

Top seed Angelique Kerber bested Ying-Ying Duan 7-6(3), 6-2 while third seed Simona Halep also advanced with three-set win over Naomi Osaka 6-4, 2-6, 6-3.

 

Sixth seed Garbine Muguruza saved a match point to get past Christina McHale 0-6, 7-6(6), 6-4 in match which carried over to Friday when rain suspened the match on Thursday night.

 

“I think I had a second chance probably with the rain and stuff,” said Muguruza.

“It was a very — it had everything in the match. She started playing well the first set yesterday and I think my game was not exactly how I wanted to be of I was missing by a little and then she was not missing at all.

‘Then I just forgot about it. I woke up today and said, Hey, this is not over. Went to the court, I fight, and I got it again.”
Last week’s winner at Indian Wells, was an upset victim on Friday. Elena Vesnina, seeded 13th lost her second-round match to wildcard Ajla Tomljanovic 3-6, 6-4, 7-5.

 

Vesnina’s Russian countrywoman, seventh seed Svetlana Kuznetsova who lost to Vesnina in the Indian Wells final, moved into the third round with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Mandy Minella.

 

Other seeds losing on Friday included: [19] Anastasija Sevastova, [20] Carla Suarez Navarro, [21] Caroline Garcia, [22] Kristina Mladenovic, [24] Timea Babos, [25] R. Vinci, [28] I. Begu, [31] D. Kasatkina and [32] Ekaterina Makarova.

American qualifier Taylor Townsend, ranked 111th in the world defeated No. 25 Roberta Vinci 6-3, 6-2.

 

Upsets on the men’s side included: [7] Marin Cilic, [9] Grigor Dimitrov, [11] Lucas Pouille, [15] Pablo Carreno Busta, [19] A. Ramos-Vinolas, [20] Gilles Simon, [21] Pablo Cuevas, [23] Steve Johnson, [28] Mischa Zverev and [30] Joao Sousa.

 

Kei Nishikori

Second seed Kei Nishikori beat Kevin Anderson 6-4, 6-3 to reach the third round. So did third seed Milos Raonic, playing his first event since late February when a right leg injury put him on an injury hiatus.

 

“I have to be very happy with just the outcome, that I was able to get the win today, that I have another chance to play in two days,” said the Canadian.

“Hopefully I can continue to progress throughout this tournament.”

 

“I’ve prepared the best I can for this tournament,” Raonic said. “I’m not necessarily in the best position right now, but fortunately it’s a long tournament. Doesn’t mean things can’t change and I can’t get better throughout this event.”

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Vesnina Stops Venus Williams to Reach BNP Paribas Open Semifinals

Venus Williams

 

(March 16, 2017) Elena Vesnina fought off six break points in the final game to defeat 12th seed Venus Williams 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 to reach the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open on Thursday in Indian Wells.

“I’m in the semifinal of BNP Indian Wells tournament, one of the biggest Masters Series tournament.,” noted Vesnina. “I guess I’m on fire. I’m enjoying myself on the court, and I’m really happy with my wins here.

“This win today against Venus really means a lot for me. It’s never easy to play against her. She’s a great champion and always fighting till the end.

“I’m really happy that I pulled this win.”

Vesnina came into the match after having beaten No. 2 seed Angelique Kerber in the fourth round.

Vesnina talked about Venus Williams’ impact on the sport of tennis: “She’s a great example of how you can love tennis. You know, for so many years, she brings so much passion and love to this game.

“She’s coming and giving everything, you know. She’s always fighting, always enjoying, smiling. You know, you can see she’s, like, little girl on the court, actually, enjoying more than half of the WTA Tour. And we have to learn from her, you know, how she’s appreciating what she’s doing.

“I think maybe it came to her maybe kind of few years ago. Maybe when she was young she was a bit different, but now she’s totally enjoying herself and she’s, like, inspiring everybody around her, you know, her and Serena, as well. Because really what they bring to the tennis, to the woman’s tennis, is just amazing.”

“It’s never fun to fall short. But, you know, I gave my all, ” said Williams.

“I chose to be here. That was my choice. I gave it my best today, and I’m looking forward to playing her again, hopefully healthy and 100%, and will have an opportunity to really show what I can do in these kind of matches.”

“Work is important and, you know, satisfying work is a big part of life, and it is satisfying. Days like today are frustrating when I want to do more and can’t do more or didn’t do more.

“But it’s wonderful to be able to live my dream and work is — you know, I try to separate it from my regular life, but it’s sort of one and the same. Of course I look at the bigger picture and realize there is more important things than the yellow ball, but it’s pretty up there.”

The Russian, seeded 14th will play the Frenchwoman, No. 28 seed Kristina Mladenovic for a place in the final. Mladenovic beat Caroline Wozniacki 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-2.

“Kiki is having a great season,” said Vesnina. “She’s on fire. She won her first maiden title in St. Petersburg and then she made final in Acapulco. I think now she beat two top 10 players on the way to the semifinal.

“So definitely she’s having a great season. It’s going to be tough match. She’s upcoming player. We played couple of times, but two, three years ago, and totally different story now.

“So we will see. I need to think how I need to play against her, because I have couple of thoughts on my mind. She’s a great doubles player, as well. You know, so she’s kind of player on all the court, you know. She can come into the net. She’s using the dropshots, slices.

“So it’s going to be difficult match, but on the other hand, it’s very exciting to play the semifinal match here in Indian Wells.”

 

Mladenovic, who will move into the Top 20 next week discussed the match in her news conference: “Caroline is a top player, former World No. 1. She’s also in very great shape. I mean, she had a very good start of the season, as well, won lots of matches.

“We played three times before today, and I always lost, especially that final in Hong Kong at the end of last year was very painful for me, like, very frustrating. I thought I was playing well that entire week and, in the final, I was just kind of exhausted and injured. And still, it was, like, a very long battle there. If I’m not wrong, it was almost three hours.

“Today I was just, like, okay, today I’m feeling good. When I woke up, I’m like, nothing is hurting. I’m good. I’m not injured. I was happy about that. I was, like, I want to give a fight there and have no regrets.

“I wanted to take my revenge, of course. It was not easy. Again, it was a tough battle and tough conditions. We played, yeah, two hours and a half. I didn’t start well at all the match.

“I thought, you know, when you lost three times against a player, it means that something is wrong and that you, like, don’t really like her game.

“But I was not playing good, but still I felt like I needed adjustments, actually. It’s first time for me playing on that huge stadium and conditions and everything. I just stayed actually very positive and composed, because I was out there battling with myself first, I think, because I wanted kind of too much, you know. That was all about.

“Then, yeah, I was just fighting mentally to find adjustment and to be close with her at the scoreboard, and eventually I got my chances. And I think I played really well the tiebreak.

“Yeah, I went for my game. I went for some variation. I think I played differently at some point, you know, trying to use more the court to make her run, as well. Because she was doing that pretty well to me. And also put some slices in my game, dropshots.

“And something new I put today was the serve and volley on such important points (smiling). I impress myself kind of (smiling). I was, Okay, great. What I’m gonna do now?

“Because every time I would serve good on the backhand, she would go, like, very deep and return well. I was, like, Okay, let’s just be creative here.

“And it paid off, and it gave me a chance to fight a third set. I think the third set was the best game of today for me.”

There were 11 breaks of serve in this match and Wozniacki regretted missing chances.

“I didn’t take some of my opportunities in the third set. I didn’t break her when I had the opportunity. I didn’t hold when I had the opportunity and, all of sudden, those games kind of slipped away.

“And she had some big forehands when she needed to and then, all of a sudden, I see myself down 5-2, and it could maybe have been different.”

Mladenovic will be the No. 1 French women player when the next rankings come out.

The other women’s semifinal will feature No. 3 Karolina Pliskova and No. 8 Svetlana Kuznetsova.

In men’s action, a pair of “Pablos” squared off for a place in the final four.

No. 21 Pablo Carreno Busta from Spain saved two match points to beat 27th seed Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay, 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (4).

“It’s my first time in the semifinal in a Masters 1000, but here in Indian Wells is — you know, for me, this tournament is one of the best, not just the Masters 1000, one of the best tournaments in the year and maybe one of the tougher, because all the people is playing here, all the top 20,” said the Spaniard.

“So I think it’s a really great result for me.”

“Always with Cuevas– with Pablo is I need to be very focused on my game, very aggressive, because his second serve or his kick, you know, the ball is bounce a lot. So I need to be aggressive and I need to dominate the points, because he’s really dangerous with his forehand.”

Stan Wawrinka

Carreno Busta will play No. 3 Stan Wawrinka who defeated No. 8 Dominic Thiem in the semifinals 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(2).

“I’m really happy,” said Wawrinka. “Again, tiebreak. The level was really high tonight. I’m really happy the way I was playing, the way I find a way to win it. He’s a strong player, really tough to play. I think in general we play both really high level, and the match was only one, two points.

“I think in the third set tiebreak I served really well. I was really focused to not give him anything. And, again, it’s a great win for me.”

“I think it’s a little bit experience, a little bit the confidence, a little bit thinking about what you want to do and just do it without thinking if you’re gonna miss or no.

“I think in those moments you need to trust your game and that’s what I did well. I was playing well. I could have lose the match, for sure. But, in general, I try to stay focused with my game, with my game plan, and don’t give in anything.

“I know also that’s when I play good tennis. I can beat anybody. So that’s give me a lot of confidence.”

 

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Venus Williams Reaches Quarterfinals of Indian Wells for First Time Since 2001 with Comeback Win

Venus Williams

(March 14, 2017) Venus Williams moved into the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open for the first time since 2001 defeating qualifier Peng Shuai 3-6, 6-1, 6-3, winning the last four straight games. Williams returned to play in Indian Wells last year after refusing to play the tournament for 15 years. She lost in the second round last year.

Williams hit 40 winners with 40 unforced errors during the match.

“Today was final 16,” said Williams. “So advance to the final 8. There are 8 people left. One of us will win. So the odds are getting better.

“I have to focus. It’s not there yet. It’s just, like, getting closer. You know, your mouth starts to water, but it doesn’t mean you’ll get fed. So I have to get it in and try to win.”

“Wasn’t really sure how it was going to turn out today,” she continued. “There were some up-and-downs and errors. It was so frustrating. But I feel like I got my focus more in that second set and towards the end of the third, because — I don’t know. I’m just a competitor. So if things get closer, then I think my better tennis is going to come. Obviously, I don’t want things to get close. I want to try to run away with it.”

Williams will face off against  Elena Vesnina who upset No.2 seed Angelique Kerber  6-3, 6-3 for a place in the semifinals.

“I think she played good. I was not playing good,” said Kerber about her loss. “It was actually not my day. I was doing a lot of mistakes. I was not moving, actually, good. But it’s happened. I mean, she played from the beginning until the end good tennis, and she was aggressive. So, yeah, she took the game on her hand.”

 

No. 3 seed Karolina Pliskova moved into the elite 8 when 15th seed Timea Bacsinszky retired from the match trailing 5-1 in the first set.

Pliskova, who reached the semifinals here last year, will take on Garbiñe Muguruza. The Spaniard defeated Elina Svitolina 7-6(5), 1-6, 6-0.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova photo courtesy of Taste of Tennis

No. 19 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova fended off No. 5 Dominika Cibulkova 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in a little over two hours to reach her first Indian Wells final eight since 2009.

“I always like to get revenges,” said the Russian to media.  The Slovak beat Pavlyuchenkova in Doha a few weeks ago. “Feels amazing, especially we just recently played in Doha and also three-set match. I felt like — I was really disappointed, though, even though it was really good level from the first till the last point.

“I thought I just didn’t convert my chances, and so really happy with the way I finished. I felt kind of good in the third set, as well.”

 

“The key was to, of course, be aggressive, which is my game, but at the same time, find the balance between being aggressive and not giving her a lot of easy shots, easy points, because she’s great fighter, and she’s always there. I know when she’s down in the score, she’s going for the shots.”

She’ll play countrywoman, No. 8 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova who beat 21st seed Caroline Garcia 6-1, 6-4.

More to follow…

 

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Angelique Kerber Survives, Venus Williams Thrives to Advance Fourth Round of BNP Paribas Open

Angelique Kerber

(March 13, 2017) Angelique Kerber avoided and upset, while Venus Williams dominated her opponent to reach the round of 16 at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California on a hot Monday.

Kerber survived France’s Pauline Parmentier 7-5, 3-6, 7-5. The German rallied from 1-4 down in the final set. An out call not made nor challenged by Parmentier, which could have given her a 5-2 lead in the final set made the difference.

“When I was 1-4 down in the third set, still to believe that I can change matches like this,” Kerber told media.
Kerber talked about her adjustments when coming back in the third set: “I think I was starting to believing in myself again and trying to taking this challenge and trying to playing point by point and not thinking what has happened before. Just going for it and trying to move in good, bring a lot of balls back, and going for it when I have the chance.”

“She is really tricky opponent. I mean, she played a lot of spin, especially from the forehand side. So I think that I need a little bit time to get used to it.

“And she was really playing good. I think we both play on a really high level. I mean, it was completely different match than I played here on my first round.”
Kerber will face off against Elena Vesnina next. The Russian defeated Timea Babos 6-4, 1-6, 6-4.

 

Seven-time major winner Venus Williams had few problems with the heat or her opponent, former French Open finalist Lucie Safarova, beating her 6-4, 6-2.

“I felt like I was being able to string points together, which of course puts pressure on my opponents if I’m not making as many errors,” Williams said.

“I felt really pretty good off the ground. This court is tricky as the ball stops, so a lot of the times you’re not hitting the ball where you think you’re going to hit it. So it definitely takes adjustments.”

“I don’t know if there’s enough time to adjust, anyway. You just kind of like deal with it. So it’s an interesting court.”

2015 winner and fourth seed Simona Halep lost to 28th seed Kristina Mladenovic 6-3, 6-3.

“I think I played obviously a great match, because you don’t beat a Top 5 player just like that,” said the Frenchwoman. “I felt the conditions were extremely difficult for both of us. I could feel that — I mean, I don’t know. 36 degrees, I think, that was pretty solid for playing tennis.

“We always had very tough battles. I was actually, head to head, 2-1. That’s not very often against a Top 5 player. I mean, at the change of ends, when I saw, like, 2-1, 30 minutes, I was, like, Great. This is going to last forever again.

“I think that match was a big win for me on the physical part, like, fitness part. I think I could see that, you know, the efforts there she gave me was like — because I was forcing her to give it to me, because I was there solid and hanging in there and putting sometimes balls back and being brave.”
This was her second Top 5 win this year, besting Karolina Pliskova in Dubai last month.

Madison Keys

No. 9 seed Madison Keys in her first tournament back from wrist surgery put on a demonstration of solid power against Japan’s  Naomi Osaka in a rematch from the U.S. Open, with the American Keys winning 6-1, 6-4.

Keys was asked if she had any expectations coming into the tournament:”Not very high,” she said. “I was, like, if I get a set, I’ll be happy. And a win — it’s always tough to come back and everyone is in the middle of their season. I definitely had really low expectations, which is probably why, when I was up there and serving for the match in the first round, I was, like, Oh, this is exciting. I didn’t think this was going to happen.

“Yeah, I’m just happy with all of it.”

A disappointed Osaka said, “I didn’t think anyone expected me to win. So at least I wanted people to see a good match. And I played terrible.”

Keys will take on Caroline Wozniacki in the round of 16. The Dane defeated Katerina Siniakova.

Number six seed Agniezska Radwanska lost to Peng Shuai, 6-4, 6-4.

American Lauren Davis was a winner over Julia Goerges of Germany 6-1, 6-4.

Stan Wawrinka

In men’s action, No. 3 Stan Wawrinka defeated 28th seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-5, 6-3. Wawrinka is the highest seed left in the top half of the draw since No. 1 Andy Murray lost to Vasek Pospisil.

“It was a really good match,” said the Swiss. “I’m very happy, in general. First set was not easy, for sure, all the match, but in general I’m happy with my game. I need to every time to adjust a little bit in the return. It’s not easy.”
Wawrinka will be playing lucky loser Yoshihito Nishioka, who rallied from 6-1, 5-2 down to beat 13th seed Tomas Berdych 1-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4.
Asked about playing Nishioka, Wawrinka said: “I know him well. Like, in general, I know how he’s playing. I watch him a few times, not only here but last year, also.

“I know how he’s playing, more from the baseline, use his power. It’s going to be interesting. I never practice with him, so it’s going to be the first time we going to be against each other. So I’m sure it’s going to be a good match.”

“I was down 1-6, 2-5, and, you know, I tried to do my best, but today I couldn’t figure out how can I beat Berdych,” said Nishioka.

But down 2-5, I tried to find a way, and then I think he give me a little bit chances. So I find a way, and then just keep trying to every point. Then he show me, like, a little bit angry, a little bit feeling tired. So, you know, I figured out how to win from down 2-5.

“And then my body feeling like I cannot move, like, that much, but just stay on focus and try fight. And then I find a way.”
Andy Murray’s conqueror in his second-round match has been conquered – Vasek Pospisil served for the match at 5-3 in the third set, but could not close out the match. Fellow qualifier Dusan Lajovic won a 6-7 (4), 6-3, 7-5.

Other men’s winners included No. 8 Dominic Thiem, No. 11 seeded David Goffin and No. 21 Pablo Carreno Busta who moved on when 16th seed Roberto Bautista Agut withdrew from the tournament due to an abdominal muscle injury.

More to follow….

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Venus Williams Battles Back from Brink, Wozniacki calls Wildcards given to Sharapova “Disrespectful” to Other Players and Keys Posts First Win of 2017

 

Venus Williams

(March 11, 2017) In a battle between two former No. 1 players, Venus Williams rallied from 6-1, 4-1 down, saving three match points in the second set to beat Jelena Jankovic 1-6, 7-6(5), 6-1 at the BNP Paribas Open at India Wells on Saturday to reach the third round.

The seven-time major winner and 12th seed said after the match: “It aint’ over until it’s over, I didn’t see no fat lady singing.”

 

No. 9 seed Madison Keys won her first match back from left wrist surgery which had her off the tour since October, when she bested Mariana Duque-Marino 6-1, 7-5. Other seeds reaching the third round included No. 2 seed Angelique Kerber, fourth seed Simona Halep, 6th seed Agnieszka Radwanska and No. 28th seed Kristina Mladenovic.

Caroline Wozniacki, who also reached the third round was asked about Maria Sharapova’s return to the tour in April after a 15th month ban for doping. Sharapova will be making her return in Stuttgart as a wildcard on Wednesday of the tournament,  April 26th, when her suspension ends.

 

“I think obviously, she’s a good draw to tennis, women’s tennis in general,” Wozniacki said in her news conference.

“But, two, I think it’s very questionable allowing – no matter who it is – a player that is still banned to play a tournament that week. I think, from the tournament side, it’s disrespectful to the other players and the WTA.

“It is what it is. Obviously, rules are twisted and turned in favor of who wants to do what.

“I think everyone deserves a second chance and I think that she’s going to come back and she’s going to fight her way back. I’m sure she’s going to play well.

“But at the same time, I feel like when a player is banned for drugs, I think that someone should start from the bottom and fight their way back because it’s different from an injury or where someone is out because they had hurt themselves. That way, I feel like a player should be able to receive as many wildcards.

“But when someone has been banned for drugs and something that is performance-enhancing, I think you deserve a second chance like everyone else, people make mistakes, but I think you should fight your back from the bottom.”

Seeds falling on the women’s side of the draw on Saturday included (16) Samantha Stosur, (23) Carla Suarez Navarro,  (27) Yulia Putintseva, (30) Shuai Zhang, and (31) Ana Konjuh.

 

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Five Past Champions to Play the Volvo Car Open

Venus Williams

(March 1, 2017) DANIEL ISLAND, S.C. – As of today, the Volvo Car Open will welcome back at least five of its past champions for its 2017 tournament, held April 1 – 9 at the Volvo Car Stadium in Charleston, South Carolina.

Currently in the field are:

  • Venus Williams, 2004 Champion
  • Jelena Jankovic, 2007 Champion
  • Samantha Stosur, 2010 Champion
  • Caroline Wozniacki, 2011 Champion
  • Andrea Petkovic, 2014 Champion

“Our patrons have rallied behind our Charleston champions year-after-year, and have become their lifelong fans,” said Eleanor Adams, Volvo Car Open Tournament Manager. “We wish each champion the best of luck in the competition and can’t wait to welcome them home.”

Williams will make her ninth appearance in the Charleston player field, where she holds a 20-7 record. The World No. 13 recently made the finals of the 2017 Australian Open.

This year will mark Jankovic’s 13th time in the Volvo Car Open draw. In addition to winning the tournament in 2007, she reached the finals in 2013. She holds a 21-11 Charleston record.

Stosur has played the Volvo Car Open ten times, where she boasts a 15-9 record. The U.S. Open winner made the quarterfinals in Doha and Taiwan already in 2017.

The 2017 Volvo Car Open will be Wozniacki’s fifth appearance in Charleston where she holds a 14-3 record. In addition to her title in 2011, she made the finals in 2009.  The World No. 14 has started 2017 strong. She’s reached the quarterfinals in Auckland and Sydney, as well as the finals in Qatar and Dubai.

Petkovic joins the 2017 player field with an 11-3 record. She will compete in Charleston for her fifth time this year. After winning the tournament in 2014, she made the semifinals in 2015.

The nine-day Volvo Car Open is the largest women’s-only tennis tournament in North America, attracting an average of 90,000 attendees and 70+ of the top tennis players.

Tickets for the 2017 Volvo Car Open are on sale.

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Serena Williams Defeats Sister Venus for Australian Open Title for Open Era Record 23rd Major

(January 28, 2017) Serena Williams has won an Open Era record 23rd major title when she defeated her older sister Venus 6-4, 6-4 to win her seventh Australian Open title on Saturday night in Melbourne.

Serena, who just passed Steffi Graf with 22 majors, is just one major behind Margaret Court for the all-time record which is 24.

The win puts Serena back at the top spot in the WTA rankings as of Monday. Venus will move up to No.11.

Serena did not drop a set in the tournament. She now holds the record for the most number Australian Open singles titles for a woman.

This is the 35-year-old Williams’ tenth major title since turning 30. This was the oldest major woman’s final in terms of combined age at 71 years, 11 months between them.

She is now 23-6 in major finals and 7-2 in major finals against her sister. Serena is now 17-11 against Venus overall.

“This was a tough one. I really would like to take this moment to congratulate Venus,” Serena Williams said during the trophy presentation. “She’s an amazing person. There’s no way I’d be at 23 without her. She’s my inspiration and the only reason I’m standing here today. Thanks for inspiring me to be the best player I can be.”

 

The match itself was not an instant classic. The match began with four straight breaks of serve/ Both women committed a total of 48 unforced errors in the 1 hour and 22-minute match.

“I feel like I had opportunities, for sure. Just missed some shots,” Venus said. But it’s not like I missed shots that I wasn’t going for. I went for those shots. It’s a matter of inches.

“So, you know, some errors here or there can mean the difference between a break of serve or a hold.”

“It’s such a great feeling to have 23,” Serena said. “It really feels great. Yeah, I’ve been chasing it for a really long time. It feels like, really long time. When it got on my radar, I knew I had an opportunity to get there, and I’m here. I’m here.

“It’s a great feeling. No better place to do it than Melbourne.”

“My first Grand Slam started here, and getting to 23 here, but playing Venus, it’s stuff that legends are made of. I couldn’t have written a better story.

“I just feel like it was the right moment. Everything kind of happened. It hasn’t quite set in yet, but it’s really good.”

“It was great to have an opportunity to play for the title,” Venus said discussing her rn to the final. “That’s exactly where I want to be standing during these Grand Slams, is on finals day, having an opportunity. That’s the highlight of all this, is to be in that moment.”

“A lot of great performances, you know. I didn’t lose a set until the semifinals. Played against a lot of players who were in form. So it’s a good thing.

“It’s a great start to the year. I’m looking forward to the rest of year. This is like tournament number two and it’s already a lot of work. I’m looking forward to tournament number three and four. It’s going to be awesome.”

For the No. 13 seed Venus this was just her second Australian Open final, the last won coming in 2003, when she lost to her sister.

“I feel motivated to continue, to continue to go out there and hit the ball the way I know I can,” Venus said about her year so far. “There’s only things I can improve on, to be honest, and to build on.

“I feel I played very well this week, pulled a lot of things out of my pocket. I got more stuff in my pocket. Get it out.”

On going after major No. 24, Serena said:”One thing I learned in the past is you have to enjoy it. That’s the beauty of winning Australia, you have a few months to relax. If you win the French, it’s like back-to-back-to-back-to-back. Australia, you have time to enjoy the moment before the next Grand Slam.”

“Well, so far I’ve been celebrating by doing non-stop press. But, you know, it’s fine. I feel good. Just to even talk about it is great. But it’s getting late. I don’t know how I’ll celebrate. I don’t know.

“I’m just still excited. Hopefully I’ll be able to sleep.”

The victory for Serena marks the 30th major title for the Williams family.

“We are just so proud,” said the winner. “We feel so fortunate to have this opportunity to be the ones that can do it, you know. Venus and I work so hard. Still to this day we work side-by-side each other at practice. We motivate each other. Like I said on the court, every time she won her match, I felt obligated to win, I’ve got to win, too.

“The motivation she gives me, it’s really second to nothing. It’s amazing.”

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An All-Williams Australian Open Final as Serena Beats Lucic-Baroni

 

(January 26, 2017) It will be the ninth all-Williams final for a major title on Saturday night. Serena Williams joined her sister Venus in the Australia Open final by easily defeating Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 6-2, 6-1 in fifty minutes to reach her eighth final in Melbourne.

“It felt really good because I felt like it was in my hands to force this Williams final,” Serena told media. “Believe it or not, I was feeling a little pressure about that, but it felt really good to get that win.”
“She’s my toughest opponent – nobody has ever beaten me as much as Venus has,” Serena Williams said about the match-up in her on-court interview. “I just feel like no matter what happens, we’ve won.”
“She’s been through a lot, I’ve been through a lot. To see her do so well it’s great. I look forward to it. A Williams is going to win this tournament.”

Serena will be attempting to make history on Saturday, trying to win her 23rd major, which would be an Open Era record. Should she win the title, she would also retake the No. 1 ranking, jumping over Angelique Kerber.

Serena holds a 16-11 record against her older sister Venus. She also leads her sister head-to-head in major finals 6-2.

“Obviously I was really proud of Venus, a total inspiration, my big sister,” Serena said. “She’s basically my world and my life. She means everything to me. I was so happy for her. For us both to be in the final is the biggest dream come true for us.”

“After everything that Venus has been through with her illness and stuff, I just can’t help but feel like it’s a win-win situation for me,” she said. “I was there for the whole time. We lived together. I know what she went through.

“It’s the one time that I really genuinely feel like no matter what happens, I can’t lose, she can’t lose. It’s going to be a great situation.”

It will be a battle of the thirty-somethings when 36-year-old Venus faces off against 35-year-old Serena.

More to follow…..

 

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Venus Williams Reaches Australian Open Final, Her First Major Final Since 2009

Venus Williams

(January 26, 2017) Playing in her 21st major semifinal, the seven-time major winner Venus Williams advanced to her first Australian Open final since 2003, when she beat her American countrywoman CoCo Vandeweghe 6-7(3), 6-2, 6-3.

The last major final in which Williams competed was in 2009 at Wimbledon when she lost to her sister Serena.

At 36-years-old, the No. 13 seed will be the oldest female major tournament finalist in the Open Era.

The 25-year-old Vandeweghe, playing in her first major final four, opened the match with a break of serve, which Williams returned the favor in the next game. Both women held on to their serves to reach the tie break in which the younger American Vandeweghe dominated.

Vandeweghe reached the semifinals with back-to-back victories over reigning major tournament winners – in the round of 16 she took down No. 1 seed and Australian Open defending champion Angelique Kerber and in the quarterfinals she stopped French Open winner Garbine Muguruza.

“The way she’s been playing this tournament, it’s like knock-out, not missing, just playing beautifully,” Williams said. “Unless the nerves get to you or you just have a bad day, I had to expect that she was going to be able to execute that once again, and she did.”

CoCo Vandeweghe

“I mean, to be honest, the way she was playing the match, it was like I was just going to have to play defense, try to play offense whenever I had an opportunity,” Williams said.

“I want to dictate, but the way she was playing, it was almost impossible to do so. So it was just about trying to control the point in whichever way that was. If that meant that defensively I controlled the point, or I was able to get a little offense, whatever it was.

“I mean, just be the one winning the point at the end somehow.”

In the second set, Williams broke Vandeweghe to take a 2-1 lead, then broke her again to go up 4-1 when Vandeweghe hit two double-faults in a row.

Vandeweghe then had four break chances in the sixth game but could not convert.

Williams leveled the match winning the second set 6-2.

Williams opened the third set with a break. In her next game, she had to fight off two break points to hold for 2-0. Williams ended the match by breaking her opponents serve in the ninth game.

 

Williams hit 30 winners against 35 errors  with 11 aces. Vandeweghe had 37 winners, 50 errors, 10 aces and 11 double-faults. A key statistic for Vandeweghe was failing to convert on break points – she was 1 for 13.

“Everyone has their moment in the sun,” Venus said in her on-court interview. “Maybe mine has gone on a while. I’d like to keep that going. I’ve got nothing else to do.”

Venus Williams will play her sister Serena, ranked No. 2-ranked in the final.

Venus was asked about possibly playing her sister Serena in the finals: “I would more than anything love to see her across the net from me on Saturday.”

“I think Venus is an unbelievable competitor,” Vandeweghe said. “Putting age aside, age is just a number. For her to be the great champion that she is is a great accomplishment. It doesn’t matter if she’s 36 or 18 or anything like that.

“For me, I appreciate her as an athlete, as a competitor, as well as I would probably be feeling joy and glee if I had won the match today.

“I think it shows kind of the human aspect of sports. I think that’s a very important factor that sometimes gets pushed to the side. We’re all human. We’re not perfect out there. We’re going to have some screw-ups. You’re also kind of watching us have our high moments and low moments, as well.

“I think it’s great for her to make a final. To have an American in the final is a great achievement for American tennis. Hopefully Serena makes it there, as well, so we can have two Americans into the final.”

Venus was asked about her post-match celebration: “I know, that moment was just joy,” she said. “It was a heartfelt match. If the match is 6-2, 6-2, you know, the moment is kind of clear that it’s going to happen. But she played so well. There was never a moment where she wasn’t just hitting the ball amazing and striking the ball with just such precision.

“It’s always very satisfying to be able to get through in such a big match against an opponent who was just on fire.”

Venus talked about how she will play the final: “Honestly, I probably just need to continue playing like I’m playing. I haven’t played badly. I lost a set today. I was not happy about it. But my opponent deserved that set. So what else could I do? Try to get the next two.

“I will try to do the same.”

“At the end of the day, my main goal will be to execute my game. I’ve had to do that in the first round. I had to do it in this round. In the final, too.

“If I can achieve that, that’s more or less what I’ll be thinking of, not necessarily that it’s the final. Of course, you think of that, too. I mean, that’s normal. But if you’re especially mentally strong, you can block that out, too, so I’ll try.”

What would winning the final mean to Venus: “It would be beautiful. It would be beautiful. I have to earn it, so… It’s not a given. I’m going to do what I can to earn it. I’m not thinking about, Oh, what would it be like to win? I’m thinking about, What do I have to do to earn that? That’s my mentality right now.

“I’m so excited after that last match. But my mind changes over quickly into what’s at stake next, so that’s where I am.”

 

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Venus Williams Reaches Australian Open Semifinals

Venus Williams

(January 23, 2017) Seven-time major winner Venus Williams has become the oldest woman to reach the Australian Open semifinals in the Open era. The 36-year-old veteran defeated 24th seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4, 7-6(3) to reach the semifinals in Melbourne for the first time since 2003. Venus lost to sister Serena in the 2003 final.

The 13th seed has reached the final four in two out of the last three majors.

“It’s wonderful to be here – but I want to go further,” Williams said on-court after the match.

“To me, the semifinals is a steppingstone, just like the other rounds,” Williams said in her news conference. “It’s an opportunity to advance. The tournament is by no means over. It’s definitely down to the business end.

“I feel like I’m playing the kind of tennis I want to produce the results that I want.”

American CoCo Vandeweghe beat a second straight Top Ten player and major champion on Tuesday when she dismissed No. 7 seed  and French Open champion Garbine Muguruza, 6-4, 6-0 to reach the Australian Open semifinals.

Vandeweghe upset No. 1 seed Angelique Kerber in the round of 16 on Sunday.
“I really wasn’t feeling all that great out there, funny enough,” Vandeweghe said after the match in an on-court. “I even told my coach out there, I was like, man, better get some toilet paper out there because, you know.”

“Once I got rolling in the second it was light a freight train, you couldn’t stop it.”

 

The world No. 35 will play Venus Williams in the semifinals. Williams has a 1-0 record against her countrywoman.

“Last and first time I ever played Venus was on clay so I hope it will be a totally different match,” Vandeweghe said. Williams defeated Vandeweghe at the French Open.

“It’s a great win for the U.S., Williams said about having two American’s in the semifinals. “To have that thought that there’s going to be at least one U.S. player in the final is great for American tennis.

“I’m sure she’s going to want to be in her first final. I’m going to want to be in only my second final here. So it’s going to be a well-contested match.”

Asked if she could win the tournament, Williams said:”Why shouldn’t I? I try to believe. Should I look across the net and believe the person across the net deserves it more? This mentality is not how champions are made. I’d like to be a champion, in particular this year. The mentality I walk on court with is: I deserve this.”

“It’s amazing to be in a semifinal,” said Vandeweghe.”But, you know, not satisfying. I want to keep going, keep playing. There’s more things to do out on a tennis court that I’m hoping to achieve.

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