May 22, 2017

Rafael Nadal Extends Winning Streak to 17 to Move into Rome Quarterfinals

Rafael Nadal Extends Winning Streak to 17 to Move into Rome Quarterfinals

(May 18, 2017) Rafael Nadal’s winning streak is now up to 17. The road to Roland Garros has taken the nine-time champion to three straight clay court titles season and now Ndal is three wins away from the Rome Masters title. Nadal beat 13th seed, American Jack Sock on Thursday 6-3, 6-4 to reach the Italian Open elite eight.

 

He’ll play eighth seed Dominc Thiem in the next round for the third time in less than a month. Nadal beat the Austrian in both the Barcelona and Madrid finals.

 

“I am here to try my best,” Nadal said. “I know is a tough tournament. I don’t have an easy draw here, a tough one. From the beginning is true that what happened to Nico was very bad news, but today again, second round against Sock is a tough one, and tomorrow against Dominic, he’s the player that is having probably more success now on clay, no?

“So will be another tough battle tomorrow. I hope to be ready for that battle, and I gonna try to play my best.”

Dominic Thiem

Thiem advanced by saving two match points in a 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7) win over Sam Querrey.

“It’s going to be a really amazing experience for me to play him third time in a very short time,” said the Austrian.

“I mean, it has been two very good matches, Barcelona and Madrid. I hope it’s going to be a third very good one tomorrow.”

 

Four-time Roma champion, second seed Novak Djokovic advanced with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Roberto Bautista Agut. Dkokovic will face Juan Martin del Potro- the Argentine upset seventh seed. Kei Nishikori 7-6 (4), 6-3.

Another top men’s seed fell on Thursday when third seed Stan Wawrinka lost to American John Isner 7-6 (1), 6-4 to American John Isner.

“It had been a while, but I was looking forward to the match, “ Isner said. “I thought I played pretty well out there.

“It’s a situation for me where I’m going out there against the No. 3 player in the world. Maybe I have a little bit less to lose than he does.

“I went out there with the belief that if I played well and executed my game plan that I could walk off that court with a win. That’s what happened today. I served well and took my chances when I had them.

“So I was very happy with the performance.”

Venus Williams

In women’s action, Venus Williams stopped a three-match losing streak against top British player Johanna Konta 6-1, 3-6, 6-1.

“I love this tournament, and I love Rome,” Williams said. “It’s one of my favorite places on earth, so that’s one of the reasons why I have always come here.

“You know, I have had a good amount of success here. Probably sometimes that it wasn’t that great. I’d never leave Rome early; let’s put it that way. I always stay.”

Other women advancing to the final eight- second seed Karolina Pliskova over Timea Bacsinszky 6-1, 7-5, eighth seed Elina Svitolina defeated Mona Barthel 3-6, 6-0, 6-0, Kiki Bertens won 7-6 (3), 6-1 over Ekaterina Makarova.

Estonian qualifier Anett Kontaveit, who knocked out No. 1 Angelique Kerber continued her winning ways stopping 16th-seeded Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 6-1, 6-1.

Kontaveit will be battling Madrid Open champion and sixth seed Simona Halep who defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1, 4-6, 6-0.

In another upset on the women’s side of the draw, qualifier Daria Gavrilova defeated seventh-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova 2-6, 7-5, 6-4.

 

 

RESULTS – THURSDAY, 18 MAY 2017

Men’s Singles – Third Round
[2] N. Djokovic (SRB) d R. Bautista Agut (ESP) 64 64
J. Isner (USA) d [3] S. Wawrinka (SUI) 76(1) 64
[4] R. Nadal (ESP) d [13] J. Sock (USA) 63 64
[5] M. Raonic (CAN) d [12] T. Berdych (CZE) 63 62
[6] M. Cilic (CRO) d [9] D. Goffin (BEL) 63 64
J. del Potro (ARG) d [7] K. Nishikori (JPN) 76(4) 63
[8] D. Thiem (AUT) d S. Querrey (USA) 36 63 76(7) – saved 3 M.P.
[16] A. Zverev (GER) d F. Fognini (ITA) 63 63

Men’s Doubles – Second Round
[1] H. Kontinen (FIN) / J. Peers (AUS) d J. Sousa (POR) / F. Verdasco (ESP) 75 75
[2] B. Bryan (USA) / M. Bryan (USA) d A. Zverev (GER) / M. Zverev (GER) w/o (A Zverev – fatigue)
[4] P. Herbert (FRA) / N. Mahut (FRA) d B. Baker (USA) / N. Monroe (USA) 62 67(7) 12-10
[5] L. Kubot (POL) / M. Melo (BRA) d F. Mergea (ROU) / A. Qureshi (PAK) 62 63
[6] R. Klaasen (RSA) / R. Ram (USA) d O. Marach (AUT) / M. Pavic (CRO) 63 64
R. Bopanna (IND) / P. Cuevas (URU) d [7] F. Lopez (ESP) / M. Lopez (ESP) 46 76(7) 10-8

SCHEDULE – FRIDAY, 19 MAY 2017

CENTRALE start 12:00 noon
WTA – [Q] A. Kontaveit (EST) vs [6] S. Halep (ROU)
Not Before 2:00 pm
ATP – [16] A. Zverev (GER) vs [5] M. Raonic (CAN)
Not Before 4:00 pm
ATP – [8] D. Thiem (AUT) vs [4] R. Nadal (ESP)
Not Before 7:30 pm
WTA – [9] V. Williams (USA) vs [3] G. Muguruza (ESP)
Not Before 9:00 pm
ATP – J. del Potro (ARG) vs [2] N. Djokovic (SRB)

NEXT GEN ARENA start 12:00 noon
ATP – J. Isner (USA) vs [6] M. Cilic (CRO)
Not Before 2:30 pm
WTA – [15] K. Bertens (NED) vs [Q] D. Gavrilova (AUS)
Not Before 4:30 pm
WTA – [8] E. Svitolina (UKR) or [Q] M. Barthel (GER) vs T. Bacsinszky (SUI) or [2] K. Pliskova (CZE)
ATP – R. Bopanna (IND) / P. Cuevas (URU) vs [4] P. Herbert (FRA) / N. Mahut (FRA)

PIETRANGELI start 12:00 noon
ATP – [1] H. Kontinen (FIN) / J. Peers (AUS) vs [5] L. Kubot (POL) / M. Melo (BRA)
WTA – [6] A. Spears (USA) / K. Srebotnik (SLO) vs [2] Y. Chan (TPE) / M. Hingis (SUI)
ATP – [6] R. Klaasen (RSA) / R. Ram (USA) vs [2] B. Bryan (USA) / M. Bryan (USA)
ATP – J. Isner (USA) / J. Sock (USA) vs [8] I. Dodig (CRO) / M. Granollers (ESP)

COURT 1 start 1:00 pm
WTA – [4] T. Babos (HUN) / A. Hlavackova (CZE) vs K. Bondarenko (UKR) / K. Siniakova (CZE)
WTA – [WC] S. Errani (ITA) / M. Trevisan (ITA) vs [3] S. Mirza (IND) / Y. Shvedova (KAZ)
WTA – [1] E. Makarova (RUS) / E. Vesnina (RUS) vs B. Krejcikova (CZE) / S. Zheng (CHN)

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Venus Williams Beats No. 1 Kerber; Nadal Moves into Miami Open Semis

Venus Williams

(March 29, 2017) Venus Williams produced her 15th win over a current No. 1 player on Wednesday at the Miami Open. The three-time Miami champion defeated the top seed Angelique Kerber 7-5, 6-3 to reach the final four in Key Biscayne.

 

For the 36-year old, 11th seeded Williams, it’s her first Miami semifinal since 2010.

 

“It was an interesting match,” the former No. 1 Williams said to media. “I was controlling it. I had more errors than I like and lower first serve percentage than I would like. For me, I’m looking at it from a standpoint of how can I get better.

“I have to play well against the No. 1 in the world. She’s on top of her game and she played well, so I had to find a way to play a little better.”

 

Sitting in the stands for the match was her father Richard Williams. After the win she thanked her dad in her on-court interview: “My dad is one of the loves of my life and the reason I’m here in this game.”

 

“He has always loved popcorn,” Williams said. “We always ate popcorn together when I was a child. That’s a great childhood memory.”

 

“I think last year Charleston was his last event, so he’s kind of sticking to the tournaments in the States now,” Williams commented.

“I could hear him on the sidelines. He really wanted it for me. So it’s a happy moment when you come off the court.

“Even if I lose he’s still very happy, but to see the joy and the pride and the excitement, I could win the match just for that.”

Williams will take on Johanna Konta who defeated Simona Halep.

 

 

Williams spoke about her upcoming match against the Brit: “She played well, served well. Tomorrow is an opportunity for me to come out and play hopefully better than today. There are a few things I would like to work on. Outside of that, just come out fresh eyes, fresh feet, and big shots. That’s my plan.”

Johanna Konta

Konta had a comeback victory over the No. 3 seed Halep 3-6, 7-6(7), 6-2. Konta was down a set and 5-2.

 

“I guess I really didn’t think too much of what the scoreline was,” noted Konta. “I think it was important for me to keep fighting and to keep — yeah, to stay very present.

“I think there wasn’t that much momentum at that point in that match necessarily in her corner, so I think I also just stayed very aware that although she was serving for the match there, there was still — I was still very much in there. I really tried to just fight every single point and stay very present.”

 

“Whoever I’m playing I’m going to have a battle on my hands, that’s for sure. I’ve obviously played Venus a few times and Angie, so I think they’re going to have a tough battle tonight.

“Yeah, looking forward to playing either of them. I think either will be a great opportunity for different reasons. Yeah, we get to have a night session tomorrow.”

 

Rafael Nadal

In men’s play, Rafael Nadal is a step closer to his winning his first Miami Open. The Spaniard saved four break points to prevent himself from going down a double break in the second set and won 6 out of the next seven games to close out the match 6-2, 6-3 over 13th seed Jack Sock in the last night match on Stadium court.

Nadal on the match: “In the first set I think I was under control during the whole set, because was so important for me to have the break in the first game that I was returning, no?

“So, yeah, in the second was so important to save that game, the 2-Love, 15-40. Another break point for him was decisive on the match, that game, and then confirm that save having the break back in the next game.

“So was two straight positive things and two straight games that probably create a lot of damage on the opponent, no?”

 

Nadal will play nemesis Fabio Fognini in the semifinals. Fognini beat a wobbly second seed and 2016 finalist in Kei Nishikori  6-4, 6-2.

 

 

Kei Nishikori

Nishikori admitted that he “wasn’t 100%.”

“I think he played good enough. I don’t think he played extremely well today. I think for me, I had too many unforced errors and my serve wasn’t there today, so I think that’s cost most of the match.”

 

“At the moment I’m just happy,” said the Italian. “Of course it’s a big, big tournament for me at the moment; feeling really good on court and other times, so this is the best thing that we can have this week.

“Happy about my performance. Of course the result, it’s positive. It’s like a dream maybe. I play next match Rafa or Sock, so going to be really, really tough match.

“Try to be focus on my game, try to do my best, and then if it’s dreaming coming true, I’m here.”

Nadal on playing Fognini:  “Well, I know him very well; he know me very well. We played couple of times; he beat me couple of times, too.

“So, yeah, it’s a tough match. He’s playing well, so will be a good tennis for me, too, and a good challenge. Happy to be in the semifinals. I’m excited about play that semifinals match against a player who’s playing very, very well during the whole week.

“Going to be a tough one. I need to play my best, keep playing aggressive like I did today, and hope to have my chances.”

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Rafael Nadal Rallies To Reach Fourth Round at Miami Open; Venus Williams Advances

Rafael Nadal

(March 26, 2017) Rafael Nadal rebounded from a shutout set on Sunday to beat Philipp Kohlschreiber 0-6, 6-2, 6-3 to reach the fourth round at the Miami Open.

“He was doing everything good,” Nadal said of his opponent. “So that’s sport, as I said hundred of times, is easy, and when somebody is playing the way that he was playing the first set, what have to do is lose the set because he was playing too good. That’s it.

“Then match is long, and positive thing is I hold very well the pressure this afternoon after a very tough first set. I resisted well the first few games on the second, and then I think I played a great second and third set.”

This was Nadal’s 1000th career match , putting him at No. 11 on the all-time list.

“1000 matches is a lot of matches obvious and good news, because that says that I am having a long career. That’s something important, especially that during a lot of years I heard that I going to have a short career. So it’s something important for me.

“Yes, during the match was good feelings to have a comeback like I had today. The first match I remember very well because it was at home in Mallorca. It was my first victory on the ATP. Was a great feeling.”

Nadal will play Nicolas Mahut for a spot in the quarterfinals.

Nadal said: “He’s playing great, no? He had already couple of great victories here. He’s a very dangerous opponent. His serve is huge and he’s able to play so aggressive, hitting the ball very, very early and going to the net very often.

“So he’s a player that I need to be quick and trying to be very solid with my serve, because I know that probably I don’t going to have a lot of options on the return, no?”

The fifth seeded Nadal is seeking his first Miami Open title, having reached the final four times.

 

Kei Nishikori

No. 2 seed Kei Nishikori beat No. 25 Fernando Verdasco 7-6 (2), 6-7 (5), 6-1 in two hours and 44 minutes. The man from Japan failed to close out the match in straight sets, holding a match point in the ninth game of the second set.

“I knew it’s going to be a tough one,” Nishikori said. Fernando is very solid player. He has great serve and great groundstrokes. I knew it’s going to be a long rallies.

“But it was a little bit shame when I was up a break both sets, first and second sets, and went to 7-6 both sets. That was something I made some mistakes when I was up a break.

“But in the third set I was very focused. Even though after first and second was tough, tough sets, I was try to play more energy, and I think everything was working well in the third set.

“So, yeah, it was tough one, but I’m very happy to win today.”

 

No. 3 seed Milos Raonic was forced to pull out of the tournaments with a right hamstring injury, which has sidelined him for most of the last month.

“It’s related to the previous injury I sustained almost four weeks ago, if not a little bit more than four weeks ago, in Delray. It’s the same muscle in the hamstring up high,” said the Canadian..

“It got progressively worse after my first round, after practicing yesterday, and it seemed like it was not possible for me to compete today without putting myself at significant risk.”

 

Venus Williams

The 36-year-old Venus Williams moved into the round of 16 with a 6-3, 6-0 win over qualifier Patricia Maria Tig.

“I love South Florida,” she told the crowd after her win “It’s really home.”

The 11th seed and three-time Miami champion was asked about the potential relocation of the tournament. Williams lives 100 miles away from Key Biscayne in Palm Beach Gardens.

“It hasn’t been easy. I’m very biased. I would love it to stay here because it’s been a staple of my life just as a child coming here and being from South Florida. I would love it to happen, and hopefully it’s in the cards.”

Per the Miami Herald, the Dolphins owner is interested in buying the tournament.
“He loves tennis, I love tennis, so, mmm, let’s keep it in South Florida,” Williams said. Yeah. If it works, I would love that.”

The seven-time major champion will play No. 7 seed and 2006 Miami Open winner Svetlana Kuznetsova.

No. 1 player Angelique Kerber needed to rally from breaks in both sets to beat American Shelby Rogers 6-4, 7-5.

No. 8 seed Madison Keys lost to unseeded Lara Arruabarrena 7-5, 7-5.

Other seeded winners: No. 3 Simona Halep, No. 10 Johanna Konta and No. 14 Sam Stosur.

 

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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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