October 24, 2016

Victoria Azarenka is Expecting a Child at the End of the Year


(July 15, 2016) Victoria Azarenka announced on her twitter  that she’s expecting a baby by the end of the year and is withdrawing from all tournaments this year.
“While recovering from my knee injury that I sustained at Roland-Garros, I received news from my doctor that my boyfriend and I are going to become parents at the end of this year,” said Azarenka via twitter. “While I will miss competing in the sport that I love this season, I am excited for all that’s ahead. I have been truly inspired by so many strong female athletes who return to the very top of their sport after having children, and I plan to do exactly that.”


Victoria Azarenka Withdraws From Wimbledon


(June 23, 2016) Victoria Azarenka has withdrawn from Wimbledon due to a right knee injury. The 26 year-old Belarusian who is the world No. 6 has three titles this year including Indian Wells and Miami. The two-time Australian Open winner has not played since she retired from her first round match at the French Open with the same knee injury.

The Ladies’ Singles seeds have been revised:

Wimbledon revised Ladies seed list


Roland Garros – Top Seeds Williams and Djokovic Dominate in Opening Wins; Murray Survives in Five

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

(May 24, 2016) Top seeds Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic had easy opening victories at Roland Garros on Tuesday. Williams, the defending champion going for her fourth Paris title destroyed No. 77 Magdalena Rybarikova 6-2, 6-0 in 42 minutes. The 21-time major champion hit 25 winners and made only five unforced errrors.

Sister Venus also advanced in straight sets. The ninth seed defeated No. 82 Anett Kontaveit 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4).

Djokovic is seeking to win his first French Open title to complete a career Grand Slam. The Serb defeated No. 95 Yen-hsun Lu of Taiwan 6-4, 6-1, 6-1. Also reaching the second round easily was nine-time champion Rafael Nadal who blasted past Sam Groth 6-1, 6-1, 6-1.

No. 2 seed completed his first round match which was held over due to darkness, surviving qualifier and former Top 10 player 37-year-old Radek Stepanek 3-6, 3-6, 6-0, 6-3, 7-5.

“It’s unbelievable what he’s doing,” said Murray in an on-court interview. “He had an extremely bad injury last year and was our for eight or nine months. At 37 years old and coming out and fighting like that, playing that way, is unbelievable. I don’t expect to be doing that myself at that age! I’m just glad I managed to get through.”
Australian Open champion and third seed Angelique Kerber was the biggest upset on the day. The German suffering from a left shoulder injury lost to No. 58 Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands. 6-2, 3-6, 6-3. Bertens is fresh off winning a title over the weekend in Nürnberg, where she was a qualifier.

Another major surprise on the women’s side saw No. 5 Victoria Azarenka lose to No. 118-ranked Karin Knapp when she was forced to retire with a knee injury down 6-3, 6-7(6), 4-0.

2010 French Open champion, unseeded Francesca Schiavone lost to Kristina Mladenovic 6-2, 6-4. It was announced on court that Schiavone was retiring, but she set the record straight during her news conference.

“Roland Garros announced my retirement but I didn’t.”

“So you can stand up all of you and go back to work in the office because I didn’t say that. I will announce when I will want to stop.”


More to follow…


Novak Djokovic Could Face Rafael Nadal in the Semifinals of Roland Garros


(May 20, 2016) The French Open men’s and women’s singles draws were made in Paris on Friday and No. 1 Novak Djokovic and No. 4 seed, nine-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal could be on a collision course to meet in the semifinals. Nadal moved into the No. 4 seed position when No. 3 Roger Federer withdrew from the tournament on Thursday.

Djokovic comes into Roland Garros seeking the only major tournament he has not won. He’s looking to become the eight man to have a “career slam,” winning each of the four major title at least once. Should the Serb win the French Open, he would hold all four major championships at the same time.

Djokovic has lost in the final of the French Open three out of the past four years. He will begin his quest for the Roland Garros crown against No. 100 in the world Lu Yen-hsun in, while Nadal will play big serving Australian, Sam Groth.

On the other side of the men’s draw, a pair of two-time major champions could meet in the other semifinal – No. 2 Andy Murray and No. 3 seed and defending champion Stan Wawrinka. Murray will play a qualifier in the first round, while Wawrinka will face-off against

The top seed in the women’s draw, Serena Williams is going after her 22nd career major, which would tie her with Steffi Graf on the all-time list, the most in the Open Era. She’s coming off her first tournament win in nine months, winning the Italian Open trophy last weekend on the clay courts of Rome.

A hurdle for the American could come in the quarterfinals, where she is projected to meet No. 5 seed and two-time Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka. Williams may also have play 2008 French Open champion Ana Ivanovic in the fourth round and reigning Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber in the final four. Williams lost to the German in the Melbourne final.

Williams will open against No. 76 Magdalena Rybarikova.

Williams is the defending champion and is going after her fourth Roland Garros trophy.

In the bottom half of the women’s draw, No. 2 Agnieszka Radwanska could play fourth seed Garbine Muguruza in the semifinals.

Play begins on Sunday, May 22.

Men’s draw

Women’s draw


Azarenka Wins Third Miami Open to Complete Indian Wells – Key Biscayne Double

Azarenka with trophy

(April 2, 2016) Victoria Azarenka added her name to the list of women to complete the Indian Wells- Key Biscayne double when the 13th beat 2006 Miami Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova on Saturday 6-3, 6-2 for the title in 77 minutes. The Belarusian joins Steffi Graf and Kim Clijsters as the only women to achieve this feat.

“It’s an honor to stand next to those amazing champions,” Azarenka said during the trophy ceremony.  “This just gives me even more inspiration and motivation to keep working harder, because this feels great.”

Azarenka, once ranked No. 1 in the world and was sidelined with injuries on and off over the past few years.

“The most difficult thing would hold me back was my body wasn’t responding well to training, to matches, and I was unhealthy, I wasn’t fit enough. So that was holding me back. And after I think the point when you reach your goals and (indiscernible) that tip of mentality where you kind of drop your motivation a little bit, if you don’t put the work in it can sway you away.

“I definitely had some difficulties mentally to get back with my motivation, but I never doubted my abilities.”

Despite setbacks, the soon-to-be back into the top five player says she’s back.

“I felt that I played really well,” Azarenka said. “I really took a lot of time away from her and her shots. I didn’t see the statistics, but I think I had a pretty high number of winners today.”
“I think I have played pretty well last year. With my injury I had some pretty good results despite that. So I’m looking forward to putting necessary work in and then go after it.”

Azarenka, a two-time major champion is now 22-1 on the year, her only loss coming to Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber in the final 8 of Melbourne.

No. 15 seed Kuznetsova upset 8-time Miami Open champion Serena Williams in the fourth round. “It’s quite open, but you have to see how Serena will play,” Kuznetsova said. “If she’s in a good mood, not good mood, good feet, not good feet – you never know.”

“I’d like to congratulate Victoria for doing such a good job this year and in these four weeks,” Kuznetsova said in her runner-up speech both speaking in Spanish and English.

“I want congratulate Sveta for the great result,” Azarenka said. “I know you’ve had a lot of ups and downs in your career and I’m so happy to see you again in top form producing some great tennis.”

Azarenka dedicated her 20th career title to her family, especially her parents.

Azarenka said that she’s celebrating her title by eating pizza.

The tennis season switches from the hardcourts of the Unites States to the clay courts of mostly Europe next week and Azarenka says she’s ready.

“Definitely very motivated for clay season. I always been a high favorite of proving people wrong, and that’s what also motivates me a lot.

“Going into clay season, people say it’s not my favorite surface and whatever, I’m going to work pretty hard to make sure it’s going to be my favorite surface. I’m going to put in the work that’s needed and the adjustments that’s needed.”


Victoria Azarenka to Play Svetlana Kuznetsova in Miami Open Final

(March 31, 2016) A pair of former Miami Open winners and two-time major champions have reached the women’s final. Svetlana Kuznetsova, a 2006 winner of the Miami Open held off Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky 7-5, 6-3. 2009 and 2011 Key Biscayne winner, 13th seed Victoria Azarenka gained a little revenge from the Australian Open by beating No. 2 Angelique Kerber. Kerber beat Azarenka in the quarterfinals of Melbourne and went on to beat Serena Williams in the final to capture her first major title.

Kuznetsova knocked out eight-time champion Serena Williams in the fourth round of Miami and survived four straight three-set wins to reach the semifinal.

The 30-year-old Russian at No. 19 in the world has become the lowest ranked finalist since 2005, when No. 38 Kim Clijsters won the Miami title.

Should Kuznetsova win the title, she would return to the top ten. She talked about her tournament so far.

“I just take match by match and I just go,” she said. “It’s one more match. I’ll play with another amazing opponent. I had great wins this week, but one match, it’s a lot. It’s almost like everything. It’s great, you know.

“I start really well playing in Sydney, and then Australian Open didn’t happen to me to play good there. But I still felt I was in good level. Then I kind of mess up with Fed Cup and all that results. It was not good for me.

“I didn’t feel going in that good shape going to the U.S. swing. I was not feeling confident at all. After I had a loss in Indian Wells I tried to work a lot and training every morning a lot just to get confidence back, get my fitness.

“I’m doing better. I’m appreciate, I am blessed I have my body to play so many years and to win against good players, top players. It’s great when things come together. Either way, it’s not the end of the world, but it’s a great week. I’m really pleased and happy the way I fight through all these tournaments and weeks and players.”

On-court after the match, the former French Open and U.S. Open champion said she was happy wrapping up the match in straight sets.

“I am happy that I could hang in there and never let my hands down,” said Kuznetsova.

“I’m happy I’m still able to play against the best in the world. I was praying to finish it in two sets so I would have a little more time to rest.”


Victoria Azarenka

Victoria Azarenka

Azarenka advanced during the Thursday night session, improving her record this year to 21-1, not dropping a set during the tournament. Should the Belarusian win, she’d become only the third woman player to win the Indian Wells – Miami double in the same year.

Both Azarenka and Kerber produced hard-hitting shots with very exciting rallies. Azarenka had her serve broken, serving for the match at 5-4 in the second set but won the next two games to close it.

Azarenka broke the German’s serve seven time during the match, hitting 29 winners and only making 16 unforced errors.

“Vika, she is doing amazing,” Kuznetsova said about potentially playing her in the final. “She is extremely prepared. Playing really confident taking all her chances.”

Azarenka is 4-4 against Kuznetsova in head-to-head competition. The last time they faced each other was in the quarterfinals of the 2013 Australian Open. Azarenka won the match and went on to win her second straight Melbourne crown.

Kei Nishikori photo courtesy of MiamiTennisNews.com

Kei Nishikori photo courtesy of MiamiTennisNews.com

On the men’s side of the draw, No. 6 Kei Nishikori survived five match points to beat No. 16 Gael Monfils 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3) to advance to the semifinals on Thursday. He’ll face No. 24 seed Nick Kyrgios who surprised No. 12 Milos Raonic 6-4, 7-6(4).

Nishikori was down 4-5, 0-40 before fighting off the Frenchman.

“I was up a break and I had many chances to break again, you know, second time,” said the top player from Japan.

“You know, I just try to focus when I lost the game for 4-All. Actually, I knew something like that was going to be happen, so I was kind of ready and like 50/50.

“But when I was down 4-5, Love-40, I thought, All right, that’s it. Especially the last couple games I wasn’t serving well, so that was — I thought it’s going to be tough to come back. I tried to play one point at time. Yeah, I thought I have to hit the ball to win the points, and I did.

“The tiebreak I was try to be focus again. I saw he was down a little bit, so try to be focus again. Yeah, did pretty good in tiebreak.”

“Then I think at 3-4 I really raise my level,” Monfils said. “I think I start to be very aggressive, start to go for it, and still had the strong feeling that I can make it.

“At the end, I think I push very hard. Then definitely I have opportunity it close it out, but actually Kei played strong. He fought well.

“Actually, I think in the breaker he was just better than me.”

Kyrgios talked about playing Nishikori next: “Obviously Kei is one of the greatest players in the world at the moment. He has an unbelievable return of serve, moves unbelievably fast, hits big from the baseline, doesn’t have many weaknesses.

“When I played him in Shanghai I didn’t really do too much wrong. I played a great match the whole time and he just played a really well in the big moments. I definitely had chances.

“I know what my game plan is going to be. It’s going to be a tough match, but I’m looking forward to it. He’s a great guy.”

For his efforts in Miami, the young Australian’s ranking will move into the top 20.

Women’s Singles – Semifinals
[13] V. Azarenka (BLR) d [2] A. Kerber (GER) 62 75
[15] S. Kuznetsova (RUS) d [19] T. Bacsinszky (SUI) 75 63

Men’s Singles – Quarterfinals
[6] K. Nishikori (JPN) d [16] G. Monfils (FRA) 46 63 76(3) – saved 5 m.p.
[24] N. Kyrgios (AUS) d [12] M. Raonic (CAN) 64 76(4)

Men’s Doubles – Semifinals
[5] P. Herbert (FRA) / N. Mahut (FRA) d [4] B. Bryan (USA) / M. Bryan (USA) 63 63
R. Klaasen (RSA) / R. Ram (USA) d T. Huey (PHI) / M. Mirnyi (BLR) 64 62

STADIUM start 1:00 pm
ATP – [1] N. Djokovic (SRB) vs [15] D. Goffin (BEL)
WTA – M. Gasparyan (RUS) / M. Niculescu (ROU) vs [4] T. Babos (HUN) / Y. Shvedova (KAZ)

7:00 pm
ATP – [24] N. Kyrgios (AUS) vs [6] K. Nishikori (JPN)
WTA – [3] B. Mattek-Sands (USA) / L. Safarova (CZE) vs [8] Y. Xu (CHN) / S. Zheng (CHN)


Djokovic and Azarenka Two Wins Away From an Indian Wells – Miami Double

(March 30, 2016) No. 1 Novak Djokovic is a match closer to claiming his sixth Miami Open title and third in a row. The Serb, dealing with back spasms on Wednesday night stopped No. 7 seed Tomas Berdych 6-3, 6-3 to reach the semifinals. His opponent will be No. 15 David Goffin of Belgium. Goffin, reaching his second straight Masters 1000 semifinal rallied past Frenchman and No. 18 seed Gilles Simon 3-6, 6-2, 6-1.

Djokovic is now 26-1 on the year. He stand two wins away from pulling off a fourth career Indian Wells – Miami double.

David Goffin

David Goffin

“Yeah, the first set it was tough because it was a good set with a good level,” Goffin said. “Gilles was really solid on his baseline, but I didn’t serve really well in the first set. I didn’t have any free points with my serve, so it was tough.

“I had so many opportunities to come back in the set. I didn’t take, yeah, any occasions to come back. I knew that the level was there and I had to keep going like this, just to stay more focus on some shots just to finish the points, some volleys, some smash, maybe some easy forehands. Maybe just be more precise, because I knew that I was feeling really good.

“Then game after game I was feeling much better. The serve was there in the third set. Yeah, I think with the serve it was the key to win the third.”

Goffin talked about his good run over the past few weeks: “I had a good level all this year during practice. I just had to reproduce my level during a match.

“I think match after match — you know, the first one against Frances Tiafoe in Indian Wells was not the best, but I won that one. Match after match was feeling much better.

“After the Davis Cup of course when I won against Marin Cilic, then match after match I was feeling much better. I won many matches in Indian Wells and here in Miami continued to win, so, yeah, I think the level is here. I have just to keep going like this. Stay aggressive.

“I worked a lot when I practiced with my coach, my two coaches. I think it’s already pays off.”

As for playing Djokovic in semifinals: “I have nothing to lose,” Goffin said. He won almost everything this year. He’s playing unbelievable tennis at the moment. But I played a great match against him last year in Cincinnati, and it could be interesting to watch the match.”

Victoria Azarenka

Victoria Azarenka

Victoria Azarenka stands two wins away from achieving the rare Indian Wells- Miami double. The 13th seed and two-time major winner defeated Britain’s Johanna Konta 6-4, 6-2 to reach the semifinals of the Miami Open on Wednesday.

Only two women have won Indian Wells and Miami in the same year and they are Kim Clijsters in 2005 and Steffi Graf in 1994 and 1996.

“If I’m able to make it, it’s great,” Azarenka said after the match. “It seems so close, but it’s really far. I want to stay in the present. I want to continue to fight and keep getting better.”

“Great player,” Azarenka said of Konta. “I was very impressed with her improvement taking from last year and seeing how well she’s handling the pressure and going in big stages and playing really well. That’s impressive. I’m sure we’re going to see a lot more of her in the future.

“I think especially for England not having women player stand out, she’s going to be the one, I think.”

I think it’s exciting to watch her journey and see happens. She’s definitely playing top 10 level right now.”

The Belarusian who has struggled with injuries the last few years said that she always believed in herself but she still hasn’t reached her peak. “I never doubt my abilities,” said the 2009 and 2011 Miami Open winner. “What came to my mind is definitely after being for so long injured, the doubt was to get healthy. So always been a little bit on my mind.

“But I still feel that I’m far from my best, and that’s what’s really exciting for me, to be motivated, to keep improving. Everybody has doubts. We’re human beings. I always trust my ability and I believe in myself.”

Azarenka will face-off against No. 2 seed Angelique Kerber who defeated No. 22 Madison Keys 6-3, 6-2 in the evening session.

For the reigning Australian Open champion, Kerber this will be her first semifinal in Miami.

Kerber dominated her American opponent, Keys made 39 unforced errors during the match. Kerber rushed need just a little over an hour to complete the victory.

“It’s nice to play a match like this,” Kerber said. “I was feeling good. Madison is always a tough opponent. I know this because we had a lot of tough battles in the past.

“I knew that I must play very good to beat her because she played very well here in the last few matches. So it’s good. It’s good.”

She continued: “I was really trying to stay focus(ed) and stay really concentrate point by point and actually trying to really only focusing on points, on point by point.

“Because I know the tennis game, and sometimes one ball can change and turn around the match. That was my goal: to be focus(ed) and playing my game until the last point.”

Kerber notched her first win over Azarenka in the most recent quarterfinals of the Australian Open. Coming into that match, the Belarusian had a 6-0 advantage over the German.

“I went out there and trying to be really aggressive from the first point, trying to really believe in myself, because until this time I never won the match against her,” Kerber said. “It was 0-6; now it’s 1-6. I will try to go out there again like in Australia and try to believe in my game and myself and, yeah, trying to challenge her.

“It will be not easy. It will be tough match. But this is for what I am practicing, for the big matches out there, to really show what, yeah, we can do and playing the best tennis.

“So I’m really looking forward to play against her again this year.”

As for playing Azarenka in the next round, Kerber said: “She had a great start of the year, of course. She is like, yeah, on fire I think right now. I will just trying to play my game go out and try to beat her. I mean, we played two times already this year and that’s the third time.

“Yeah, I will try to enjoy it. I know that I must play really my best tennis to beat her because she won Indian Wells; she’s here now in the semis.

“Yeah, I will try to take this challenge against her.”

The other semifinal which will take place on Thursday will pit No. 15 Svetlana Kuznetsova, who defeated No. 1 Serena Williams in the third round, against No. 19 seed Timea Bacsinszky who knocked out two straight top 5 seeds to reach the final four.



21 MARCH – 3 APRIL, 2016

RESULTS – MARCH 30, 2016
Women’s Singles – Quarterfinals
[2] A. Kerber (GER) d [22] M. Keys (USA) 63 62
[13] V. Azarenka (BLR) d [24] J. Konta (GBR) 64 62

Women’s Doubles – Quarterfinals
[3] B. Mattek-Sands (USA) / L. Safarova (CZE) d [5] A. Hlavackova (CZE) / L. Hradecka (CZE) 75 63
[4] T. Babos (HUN) / Y. Shvedova (KAZ) d K. Bondarenko (UKR) / O. Savchuk (UKR) 62 64
[8] Y. Xu (CHN) / S. Zheng (CHN) d E. Makarova (RUS) / B. Strycova (CZE) 62 62

Men’s Singles – Quarterfinals
[1] N. Djokovic (SRB) d [7] T. Berdych (CZE) 63 63
[15] D. Goffin (BEL) d [18] G. Simon (FRA) 36 62 61

Doubles – Quarterfinals
[4] B. Bryan (USA) / M. Bryan (USA) d [WC] O. Jasika (AUS) / J. Smith (AUS) 76(5) 63
[5] P. Herbert (FRA) / N. Mahut (FRA) d J. Chardy (FRA) / F. Martin (FRA) 67(5) 76(5) 10-7
R. Klaasen (RSA) / R. Ram (USA) d P. Petzschner (GER) / A. Peya (AUT) 76(5) 57 10-7
T. Huey (PHI) / M. Mirnyi (BLR) d J. Isner (USA) / N. Monroe (USA) 61 75


STADIUM start 1:00 pm
WTA – [15] S. Kuznetsova (RUS) vs [19] T. Bacsinszky (SUI)

Not Before 3:00 pm
ATP – [6] K. Nishikori (JPN) vs [16] G. Monfils (FRA)

7:00 pm
ATP – [12] M. Raonic (CAN) vs [24] N. Kyrgios (AUS)

Not Before 9:00 pm
WTA – [13] V. Azarenka (BLR) vs [2] A. Kerber (GER)

GRANDSTAND start 1:00 pm
ATP – [5] P. Herbert (FRA) / N. Mahut (FRA) vs [4] B. Bryan (USA) / M. Bryan (USA)

Not Before 5:00 pm
ATP – R. Klaasen (RSA) / R. Ram (USA) vs T. Huey (PHI) / M. Mirnyi (BLR)


Victoria Azarenka Defeats Serena Williams to win Indian Wells, Will Return to the Top 10

Victoria Azarenka

Victoria Azarenka

(March 20, 2016) Victoria Azarenka beat Serena Williams 6-4, 6-4 to win the BNP Paribas Open for the second time. The win moves Azarenka back into the top ten when the rankings come out on Monday. She was last in the top ten in August of 2014.

Azarenka broke Williams at love to start the match and held on to win the first set.

In the second set, Azarenka went up two breaks on Williams. At 3-0 Williams broke her racquet.

Azarenka took a 5-1 lead, but Williams won the next three straight games, having break points, when Azarenka served for the match a second time. The woman from Belarus held to close the match 6-4, 6-4.

Williams made 33 unforced errors during the match.

It was Azarenka’s first win over No. 1 Williams since she beat her for the Cincinnati title in August 2013. She move to No. 8 in the world.

Asked about reaching the top ten again, Azarenka said: “Feels good just to be able to, you know, see the work that I have put in and it’s paying off. But not just, you know, this year. Just everything that I have been through in the last years, it makes it more special.

“I just want to keep going. I just want to keep going. I want to keep improving myself as a player. I was very, I would say, brave to go for things that I haven’t maybe done as much before in the matches.

“I was more aggressive. I started to use my serve the way I wanted to use my serve. Sometimes it doesn’t work necessarily, like couple of matches this week. But having that big goal in mind and going after it, that’s something that makes the momentum shift on the big stages.”

Azarenka, with the win became the first to beat Williams in four different finals.

“I’m very honored to play against the best player in the world,” Azarenka said. “That’s what I said on the court. I really mean that. She’s absolutely transformed women’s sport. Her and Venus brought something unique and lifted it up.

“You know, the power, the intensity, you know, the records that I’m pretty sure she’s gonna break at some point. But just to be able to watch that and get inspired, for me, that’s more important. I mean, I’m happy that I won and I’m going to — next time we play I’m going to try to win again, but just being able to play on big stages against the best player, that’s something that I want to do every single week.”

For Williams, this was her second year was back at Indian Wells after a 14-year absence which ended last year.

“I think overall it was a good result for me just to be able to be back and to be able to play, in general, Williams said.

“Yeah, I think that overall was just really, really good. Obviously I didn’t win and that’s not the result I was looking for, but I think looking at the big picture it’s just I definitely didn’t expect to be on that stage again.

“The last time I was there (in the final in 2001) was probably the worst moment of my whole career. Not probably. Sure.

“To be back out there, which I never thought I would be, you know, was really different and special. You know, it was just — I was overwhelmed with, I think, emotions and nerves. Obviously I think everything kind of played a part.

“But for me it wasn’t about winning. It was just about, as Raymond said, coming back out here and doing well. No shade.”

Williams also addressed comment made by Tournament Director Raymond Moore that the WTA was riding the “coattails” of the men’s tour.

Indian Wells CEO Issues Apology for Sexist Comments: Serena Williams Reacts



Serena Williams Reaches First Indian Wells Final Since 2001

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

(March 18, 2016) INDIAN WELLS, California – Serena Williams had to rally in both sets before advancing to the Indian Wells final defeating No. 3 seed Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 7-6(1) on Saturday night.

Radwanska was a point away from a 5-2 lead in the first set when Williams won seven straight games to take a 6-4, 3-0 lead.

Radwanska got back on serve and broke Williams to serve for the second set at 6-5. Williams broke back and sent the set to a tiebreak, which Williams dominated.

Williams hit 41 winners in the match to her opponent’s 18.

“I just made a few errors in the beginning and then just started to get a bit more pumped up toward the middle,” said the world No. 1.

Well, in the first set she served pretty much every ball to my forehand. I started reading it, so she obviously changed her strategy, which is obviously — she’s a very smart player, so she knows that you just can’t go into the match and just do the exact same thing against anybody for the whole match.”

“I think it was pretty good match,” said the woman from Poland. “I started very well. Unfortunately I didn’t took chances I had in the first set, so many break points I couldn’t even count.”

“Think it was a really good match. I think we both played very well.

“In important moments she played really amazing shots. I think maybe I just didn’t really step enough in some of the important moments that I have a chance.

“Then she took it and it was too late. But I think that was really match in that kind of level that we have ranking.”
Williams returns to the BNP Paribas Open final for the first time since 2001. She returned to play the tournament last year after not playing it from 2002-2014. “Definitely didn’t think I would be in another final here ever,” Williams said. “Then last year just really, really bad luck. I felt devastated that I wasn’t in the final or at least even being able to play.

“After the last final I had here, I never pictured myself being back. So it’s interesting feeling.”

“Well, hopefully it will be very different than last final,” Williams said smiling.  “But my goal is just to be out there, and I think it’s kind of cool that I can really close the door by being in the final again.

“So I think it’s something that really kind of came full circle.”

In the other women’s semifinal, Victoria Azarenka defeated Karolina Pliskova 7-6(1), 1-6, 6-2. Williams has a 17-3 record against the Belarusian.



Kerber Surprises Azarenka to Reach Australian Open Semifinals; In Melbourne Debut Konta Makes Final Four

Kerber fistpump-001

(January 26, 2016) No. 7 seed Angelique Kerber rallied from 2-5 down in the second set to close out No. 14 seed and two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka 6-3, 7-5 to reach her first semifinal in Melbourne. It was the German’s first-ever victory against the Belarusian, to she had lost to in six previous attempts.

“I won against her for the first time. Does feel really good,” Kerber said. “Before I went on court also yesterday I was practicing in my practice to be more aggressive.

“I played very well. I mean, I was playing my game from the first point. Also when I was down 2-5, I was actually, yeah, playing more aggressive on this time. I think that was the key.

“I served very well and was moving good. I think the key from this match was that I was playing and I won the match. She doesn’t lose it; I actually won it.”

Kerber had jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first set. Azarenka regained one of the breaks to get to 3-4 but failed to capitalize on break points to draw even in the eighth game.

“I did put myself in the situations to be able to turn the match around,” said Azarenka. “I just didn’t commit enough, and that’s on me.”

“When I was 4-0 up in the first set, my nerves came a little bit,” Kerber explained. “I was feeling it. It was close that it was 4-4. I was able to do the 5-3 in the first set, so that was a really important moment in the first set.

“Then I was just trying, you know, to focus on my game, to be aggressive, to be the player who makes the winners and who is going for it. I was not thinking too much about the score, I was just trying to focusing more to play a good match, to play my game like I played in the practice. That was the whole time until the last point in my mind.”

Azarenka hit 33 unforced errors in the match while Kerber broke Azarenka’s serve six times.

“I think I was a little bit too flat today,” said the former No. 1. “I obviously didn’t start great. For me personally, it was a little bit 10% not enough of everything.

“My footwork didn’t have enough. My shots didn’t have enough. I felt I did a little bit too many unforced errors in the key moments. I created a lot of opportunities, but then I was not enough on my opportunities. I didn’t take them. I had plenty.

“You know, that’s not going to win matches in quarterfinals. You have to bring it, and I didn’t.”

Kerber will play Great Britain’s Johanna Konta in the semifinals. She beat Shuai Zhang 6-4, 6-1 in the later quarterfinal match.

“It doesn’t matter against who I’m playing in the semis,” Kerber said. “I mean, who is in the semis played very good four matches actually, or five matches. I think I will just try to focusing on my game, as well. I mean, I will try to not thinking against who I’m playing. I will just try to focusing like today, to be aggressive, more focusing on my game, and then let’s see how far I can get here.”

“I’m in the right direction,” Azarenka said. “I just need to keep going that way and work harder, be as professional as I am. I don’t feel that I’ve done anything wrong in my preparation. It’s just today I didn’t push myself enough.”

Konta’s victory makes her the first British woman to reach the final four of a major since 1984. Konta, who is making her debut in the main draw in Melbourne will see her ranking move into the Top 30. She’ll be the first British woman in the Top 30 since Laura Robson in July 2013. A year ago the Sydney-born Brit was 144th in the world.

She upset No. 8 Venus Williams in the first round and knocked out former Australian Open semifinalist 21st seed Ekaterina Makarova in the round of 16.

Konta stopped a seven-match win streak of Zhang, going back to the beginning of the qualifying tournament. Zhang had not won a match at a major coming into the Australian Open, she’s now 4-14.

“It will be my first match against her,” Konta said of her semifinal match-up against Kerber. “She’s top 10. She’s an incredibly decorated and successful competitor and player. I’m just going to go out there and bring to the court what I can.”

“I mean, whether you’re the favorite or the underdog, I think that’s very much a circumstantial thing outside of the match that I’m playing. I don’t really think about that. It’s neither here nor there for me.

“For me it’s just about going into every match and being very clear on what I want to achieve out there and being very processor orientated and sticking to my beliefs and really the not judging myself on the results that come.

“Just really make sure that I give my best out there.”

The other semifinalists which were determined on Tuesday, are six-time champion Serena Williams and Agnieszka Radwanska.

The women’s semifinals will be played on Thursday.

On the men’s side of the draw – in addition to Great Britain having a women’s semifinalist, it also has a men’s. No. 2 seed Andy Murray stopped No. 8 seed David Ferrer 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-3 to reach his 6th final four in Melbourne in the last seven years.

Joining Murray in his semifinal will be Milos Raonic. Raonic became the first Canadian to get to this stage at the Australian Open. Raonic defeated No. 23 Gael Monfils 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Murray has a 3-3 record against Raonic.