2014/07/26

Second Seed Li Na Knocked Out of Wimbledon

 

 

(June 27, 2014) WIMBLEDON – Current Australian Open champion and No. 2 player, China’s Li Na is has been knocked out of Wimbledon falling 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5) to Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic in a third round match Friday on Court 1.

Li actually held a set point in the second set which she could not capitalize on.

Statistics which tell the story of the match: Li Na was 2 for 7 on break point chances with 37 unforced errors, with seven double-faults. Both women won 93 points in the match.

Li Na said that she should have prepared better for grass.

“I make a decision.  I say, Oh, maybe I should change a little bit.  I come here pretty early to try to play on the grass court,” Li said.

“I need to play some matches before the big one.”

“I believed in myself coming into this match,” Zahlavova Strycova said  “I thought I can do it. That’s what happened.”

This will be the first time the Czech has reached the second week of a major. She’ll play Caroline Wozniacki next.

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Li Na and Victoria Azarenka Through to the Second Round at Wimbledon

 

 

(June 23, 2014) WIMBLEDON – No. 8 Victoria Azarenka is back on track, while No. 2 Li Na was tested in the first set as both women advanced to the second round of Wimbledon on Monday.

After five months without a win due to a foot injury which kept her off the tour, Azarenka beat Miriana Lucic Baroni 6-3, 7-5 to make the second round of Wimbledon.

“Well, I’m just very happy to be able to play,” Azarenka said.  “This is what I love to do.  The best feeling is to play pain-free.  That’s what’s important for me.

“I think, you know, getting the game together and the timing, it’s all a long process.  But the important is that I’m there, you know, 100%.  My focus is there.  My desire and concentration is there.  So that’s what all I can ask for in myself

The Belarusian spoke about her recovery, “the toughest part about the time off and my rehab in particular was that I didn’t know when I was going to be able to go on the court because it was mostly a day-to-day progress and how it was going to feel.

“Some days it was getting much better.  Some days were a little bit setback.  That was the most difficult part.

“Once I start moving, I start feeling well, once I got on the court, you know, I didn’t really feel like, Oh, I’m missing about a hundred balls, but it didn’t matter, it was just important to actually hit the ball.”

Li Na photo courtesy of MiamiTennisNews.com

Li Na photo courtesy of MiamiTennisNews.com

Li Na had a 7-5, 6-2 win over Paula Kania of Poland. Na rallied to win the last four games to close the first set.

The Chinese woman said she knew nothing about her opponent coming into the match.

“Zero,” Li Na said.  “I will try to find something on the Internet, but I cannot.

“Two or three days ago I was practice with another player, and her coach say, I think she has good forehand.  I start to play her backhand today, and she didn’t miss one shot.

“So I think I need to talk to the guy later.”

 

Karen Pestaina at Wimbledon

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An Upbeat Azarenka and a Grumpy Jankovic Fall in Eastbourne

Jankovic shocked

By Tumaini Carayol

(June 17, 2014) EASTBOURNE, ENGLAND – Whatever mood Jelena Jankovic was in, it was not a good mood. For one, she was standing on, in her view, the worst surface known to mankind. Her hatred for the grass is no secret and, as transparently pointed questions flew her way; essentially asking her exactly how much she detested tennis on grass and hated whoever first dreamed it up, it was showcased yet more as her diplomatic response was belied by the festival of pained facial expressions and rolled eyes that accompanied it.

 

Serving two games from defeat against the relatively harmless Madison Keys, she finally had enough. Her breaking point was broke. Out came a stream of her typically baritone and croaky-voiced yells to no one in particular, all in her native Serbian. One of the trillions of older people lined up around the court sensed a moment of humor, responded with a loudly-voiced mock agreement “Yeah, for sure!” As a smattering of laughter erupted from those within earshot of it all, Jankovic turned on her heel and, while leering in the vague direction of the offending fan she roared back with at full capacity of her lungs. “Yeah, for sure…what?”

 

The testiness was only beginning. As Jankovic departed from the court, stomping flat all that encountered the soles of her feet as she crossed Eastbourne’s blissfully vast grounds, fans and practising players alike turned as she yelled blue murder in more, furiously deep and croaky Serbian to her brother. Sensing their opportunity to bag one of those autographs, two girls would follow in a single-minded pursuit of her. The first, after chasing for a while and demandingly staring at the back of her head in hope that the star would pivot and sign, eventually had the sense to rapidly move away and duck for. The second, however, wasn’t so wise. After fighting for the Serb’s attention and failing misery, she turned and sobbed herself dry.

Azarenka

The grumpiest of all, though, wasn’t particularly grumpy this time. Victoria Azarenka was a tight 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 loser to the all-bamboozling power of Camila Giorgi. The paradox of Camila is that she is so softly-spoken, so quiet and so small yet on the court she explodes into the most aggressive being known to mankind. She doesn’t attack balls, she attempts to transfigure them into fluffy nothingness through screaming force. Her crazy father, with the now trademark gray and long locks that may or may not be uncombed and unwashed since leaving the womb, provides the final contrast.

 

But after the loss, Azarenka was fairly upbeat at her intensity and focus and the fact that she had pieced together some form of matchplay after so long off. Even in this unaffected state, however, she still managed to notch up some friction as a fairly standard and beige question was met with the rasping response of “that’s a very silly question”. The rest of her answer was matter-of-fact and regular, and it was almost as if she was oblivious to her typical friction-creating.

 

The men carry such low profiles in Eastbourne that it is sometimes easy to forget that they even exist there, but they had their moments too. Gilles Simon was so comically inept on a doubles court, crashing and burning before the public’s eyes – but not before bunting his partner, Cristopher Kas, with a return. There came also the amusingly sad sight of Andrey Kuznetsov, who lost early in the day then resurfaced later on the practice court with a crater-sized box of balls, four empty cans and abjectly alone. He placed down the four cans on the four corners of the boxes before proceeding to sorrowfully aim and fire serve after serve at them. Not a soul came to watch, coach or encourage him, and he eventually loaded the balls back into his box and walked off completely alone. It must have been a terrible serving day.

 

 

In the end, though, it was Madison Keys who stole the show after effortlessly punching out Jelena Jankovic. Her conferences stand as reaffirmation that the real value is in being there and the bare transcripts sometimes provided offer little in the way of underlining how and why something is uttered. For Madison’s part, it rarely projects in print but in press she’s serves endless charm even with the most standard of answers. Unlike other players, she doesn’t take herself seriously and allows the sarcasm and self-deprecating humor to show. There were good answers and there were great answers, but the best came as the subject turned to the, until recently, alien sport of soccer. Quickly, she summed up the thought process of the entirety of America in one, succinct answer.

 

“This week is the first time I have watched a full football game,” she said. “And I still am not a huge fan, but I’m getting more and more into it as the World Cup goes on. There is a couple of times where I just don’t understand what’s going on. I’m just like, Wait, why does he have a free kick? Why is the other guy rolling on the ground? No one touched him.”

 

Soon after, she could be seen marching out of the news conference with a newly minted spring in her step. A good day on and off the court.

 

Tumaini Carayol is covering the Aegon International for Tennis Panorama News. He is a freelance tennis writer for various publications, and also writes about professional tennis at his site Foot Fault. Follow his tournament updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.

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Victoria Azarenka, Back in Action but with Questions to be Answered

 

Victoria-Azarenka-600x399

By Tumaini Carayol

(June 16, 2014) EASTBOURNE, ENGLAND – The sun rose on a new day, but before long a familiar noise was relentlessly piercing the morning atmosphere. At last, Victoria Azarenka was back. But there was no homely welcome mat to usher the fallen warrior back into the routine of the tour. Her first practice came on the courts adjacent to the media centre, and mere seconds were needed for the first complaints to ring out ironically louder than the apparent irritant. One person, voice dripping with abject disgust, simply couldn’t deal with it. Another rolled their eyes and wordlessly slammed the window shut. So, welcome back then, Victoria. Normal service already seamlessly back into motion before she even stepped onto the match court.

 

Azarenka’s practice continued in earnest, and in it there was much to take in. Ocular positives were on show as there came the distinct sense that she really was hitting the ball well. As rallies with her nameless hitting partner raged on, she rapidly fell into a rhythm of punctuating every winner that seared past her opponent’s face with a typically over exaggerated exclamation of “yeah”! Such was the frequency of the shout, her throat was probably raw and dry by the end.

 

But for all the clean ballstriking, there too are palpable issues. Her fitness remains the clearest, most obvious obstacle. Throughout the session she remained largely in one spot, hopping but rarely braving anything close to the full limits of her movement. After she struggled to recover her prime shape of 2012 post-injury in early 2013, the Belarusian is further away than ever. This is only natural, however, and it is perhaps true that an increase in her program.

 

The endless serve problems stand high up the list too. In the fall of 2013, Azarenka decided to completely demolish her old rapid abbreviated stroke and build in its place a full-blooded, lengthy motion. The problem is that it is disjointed, hitchy and lacking any rhythm among many others. She struggled immensely with it towards the end of 2013 and the beginning of the new year, and even in the nerveless confines of practice lack of match or general fitness is also palpable, throughout this session and the ones held last week during the men’s Queen’s event.

 

Soon, she was finished and it was time to greet the press. Three months had passed but again little had changed with the exchanges still testy and awkward as ever.

 

“Why not? Like, why not,” she croaked to queries of her decision to descend upon Eastbourne’s Devonshire Park. “I mean, what’s more exciting than Wimbledon? I just felt that, you know, I started feeling really good on the court, you know, playing with no pain. I just want to play. I couldn’t wait to play.”

 

“Once I felt that I’m healthy, I started practicing and I just wanted to play. So I’m here in Eastbourne to try to test myself in competition, you know. I have been tested in practice, but competition is a completely different thing.”

 

She also discussed her activities that took up her time away from the tour. Unlike Jelena Jankovic, who croacked about her passion of beach volleyball.

 

“Rehabbing, you know, staying at home, just walking with my dog and just living a normal, everyday life, which is very unnormal actually, still (smiling).”

 

“But I had a great time. I obviously missed tennis, I missed being able to travel, to compete. I think compete is the most what I was missing.”

 

Soon enough, it was time to go but the message projected was clear. Victoria Azarenka is back and even if she initially fails, beware.

 

Tumaini Carayol is covering the Aegon International for Tennis Panorama News. He is a freelance tennis writer for various publications, and also writes about professional tennis at his site Foot Fault. Follow his tournament updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.

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Victoria Azarenka to Return to the WTA Tour at Aegon International in Eastbourne

Victoria-Azarenka-600x399

(June 11, 2014) Former world No.1 Victoria Azarenka will make her return the WTA tour  at the Aegon International in Eastbourne, taking a wild card into the event which runs from June 14th to 21st .

Azarenka, a 2010 Eastbourne finalist, has not played since a left foot injury sidelined her after Indian Wells in March.

Belarusian Azarenka said she is excited to make her return to the WTA Tour at the prestigious Aegon International which celebrates its 40th anniversary this summer.

“I’ve worked hard to rehabilitate my injury and to get fit for my return,” said Azarenka.

“I’ve played at Eastbourne three times and always enjoyed it. The grass courts are world class which will give me the best possible start to the second half of the season, and the perfect preparation for Wimbledon,” she said.

“I have great memories of playing at Eastbourne, particularly in 2010 when I reached the final, and 2014 is obviously a very special year for the tournament. The draw is incredibly strong as usual, and I am very excited to be a part of that,” she said.

Gavin Fletcher, Tournament Director at the Aegon International, said: “It’s fantastic that Victoria Azarenka will make her make her return to the tour, and to Devonshire Park on the 40th anniversary of the tournament.

“Once again the event has attracted an incredible line-up with five players in the world’s top 10 and ten of the world’s top 20 competing including world No.4 Agnieszka Radwanska, world No.6 and former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and former world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki.”

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Victoria Azarenka to Miss French Open with Foot Injury

Azarenka

(May 18, 2014) Victoria Azarenka has withdrawn from the French Open with a left foot injury which has kept her off the tour since early March.

Azarenka made the announcement on twitter on Sunday:

Azarenka from Belarus is a two-time Australian Open champion and former world No. 2. The French Open begins on May 25 in Paris.

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Redfoo To Compete in Men’s Pro Singles Open Qualifying Tuesday at 114th Ojai Tennis Tournament

Victoria Azarenka and Redfoo

Victoria Azarenka and Redfoo

(April 21, 2013) Pop star Redfoo of LMFAO has never been shy sharing with the world his love for tennis. Local Southern California fans will get to see Stefan Gordy, a.k.a Redfoo, in action on the courts at one of the oldest and largest tennis tournaments in the country as he takes on Weil Academy junior Zhang Liang to kick off the 114th annual Ojai Tennis Tournament.

 

Redfoo is the son of Motown Records founder Barry Gordy and is currently dating WTA world-ranked No. 4 tennis player Victoria Azarenka. He is most known for his hit songs “Party Rock Anthem” and “I’m Sexy and I Know It.” Redfoo played in the USTA US Open National Playoff qualifying event last year in Northern California and will attempt to qualify for a spot in the US Open again next month. For the past two years, he has lent his Party Rock name to the USTA Women’s Pro Circuit $50,000 event in Las Vegas: the Party Rock Open. He is currently being coached by six-time past Ojai Open champion Lester Cook, who will play in the Open singles and doubles main draw on Thursday.

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Victoria Azarenka Pulls Out of Miami with Foot Injury

Azarenka

(March 12, 2014) Two- time Sony Open winner and current World No. 4, Victoria Azarenka, has withdrawn this year’s Sony Open due to a foot injury.

“I am very sad not to be able to compete at this year’s Sony Open in Miami,” said Azarenka. “I love playing in the US and my results in the past were also great. But it’s been now over a year that it seems that bad luck has been following me. I couldn’t play in Miami last year with a problem in my ankle and now this with my foot. It is time for me to think about my recovery and will work hard for that. I wish the tournament all the best for this 2014 edition. Miami is an amazing place and a great tournament. I hope to be there next year fully recovered and able to be competing for the title.”

The tournament begins on March 17, 2014.

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Ailing Victoria Azarenka Falls at the BNP Paribas Open

 

 

Azarenka

(March 7, 2014) INDIAN WELLS, California -

Nursing a left foot injury, third-seeded Victoria Azarenka fell out of the BNP Paribas Open on Friday night in her first match in more than a month. American Lauren Davis winning 6-0, 7-6 (2).

Azarenka had been off the tour since the Australian Open due to some never damage between her toes. She had to wear a boot on her foot for three weeks.

“Basically, all I had was my fighting spirit,” Azarenka said. “When I’m on the court I try to give as much as I can, even on one leg. I try to do my best in tough situations. That’s part of our job.”

Azarenka is uncertain if she’ll participate in the Sony Open in Miami in 10 days.

“I want to be pain-free because it’s not to the most fun to be out there like that,” Azarenka said.

“It means so much to me,” Davis said.  “My first top 10 win, and just being in the third round of Indian Wells really boosts my confidence.

“I just tried to focus on myself, and, I mean, at times blocked them (the crowd) out.  Because like when you’re up and you’re about to beat the No. 3 girl in the world is kind of a high and you kind of look towards the end of the match.

“So I just really just tried to focus on myself and just block them out.”

The only other seed to fall on Friday was former two-time champion Hantuchova, seeded 29th, losing to American Varvara Lepchenko, 6-3, 6-2.

Other seed to advance included second seed Agnieszka Radwanska, No. 6 Simona Halep, No. 7 Jelena Jankovic, No. 9 Sara Errani and No. 10 Caroline Wozniacki.

On a packed Stadium court 2, 2008 Olympic Doubles Gold medalists Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka paired up for a 6-2, 6-7 (4), (10-6) win over Rohan Bopanna of India and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi of Pakistan.

“I don’t know if it was sold out, but it felt like very, very full,” said Federer. “You’re not probably going to achieve that on center court (which holds 16,100) for a doubles. But that was a perfect setup, a feeling, and we can thank the tournament and (owner) Larry Ellison for building such a court so quickly.”

“It’s nice to see the game grow and seeing people coming out and enjoying it. It’s great. I really had a great time out there with Stan today.”

“It took me time to realize really what I did in Australian Open,” said current champion and No. 3 seed Wawrinka.

“Still when I’m saying that I won a Grand Slam it’s still strange for me, but that’s why it was good to be home during three weeks. It was good to be with the family, to take more time for myself.

 

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Ready, Set, WTA All-Access at the BNP Paribas Open

 

(March 5, 2014) INDIAN WELLS, California – The top eight women’s seeds held court on Wednesday taking questions from the media during roundtable interviews at the BNP Paribas Open. Here are a few notes and quotes from session:

Aga Radwanska

Agnieszka Radwanska and the Cheesecake Factory

Radwanska professed her love for the Cheesecake Factory. She has inked a multi-year agreement with her favorite restaurant. She’ll be sporting the logo on her visor when she plays.

Radwanska says that she can complain about her season so far – two semifinals including the Australian Open.

Last year Radwanska became a blonde and is back to being a brunette. When asked about the change back to her natural hair color, she said “I prefer the dark hair. It was good to change sometimes.”

LI Na media crush

Li Na is the No. 1 Seed

With Serena Williams absent from Indian Wells, Li Na holds the mantle as the No. 1 seed for the tournament. “Feel pretty good,” Li Na said about having the top spot. This is the first time that she’s been the top seed at WTA Premier Mandatory event.

So what’s life after winner her second major like? She says not much different. “I signed a lot of autographs. But not contracts, OK? So looking forward to signing a lot of contracts,” she said.

 

Kerber

Angelique Kerber – Germany’s Fed Cup team members get a Porsche

So what does she think makes her game special? She says she has the ability to read her opponent’s game, and her defense – how she runs and fights for every point. “That’s what I have inside,” she said. As to what she thinks she needs to improve, she says that she needs to play more “aggressive” tennis.

Kerber spot fondly of being a member of Germany’s Fed Cup. She says they are all friends so everyone wants to play and there is a nice incentive – each Fed Cup team member gets a Porsche. Porsche is the sponsor of the Fed Cup team in Germany.

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova NBC Correspondent

“Carrying the torch was the biggest honor I could have received,” said  former Sochi native Sharapova in choosing between carrying the Olympic torch or Russia’s flag at the Olympic games.

In addition to her torch carrying duty, Sharapova was a correspondent for NBC during the Sochi games. “It was really fun,” said the Russian.

Asked if she would be interested in media in the future she said, ” I am not sure. I had a great time and I don’t know if that’s something I would do for long periods of time. I love that challenge of it.

“We shot for so many hours for a three minute clip.” She emphasized how it takes a lot of time to put a short piece together in television between shooting and travel time.

Her Sochi experience was a great one, but she’s happy to get back to the court.

 

Petra Kvitova

Petra Kvitova

When asked about whether she feels that most of the time her matches are on her racquet, she responded, When I’m playing, I’m feeling it’s about me and I’m playing aggressive myself, that’s most(ly) about me.” Not all of the time is a happy end.” Kvitova admits that she’s OK with her game but she has some  more expectations of herself.

Playing aggressively comes natural to the 2011 Wimbledon champion.

 

Halep

Simona Halep is a first-timer at the WTA All-Access

Simona Halep’s ranking has been on the rise for the past few years. Last year only No. 1 Serena Williams claimed more titles than the Romanian during the year.

To what does Halep attribute that success to? “I was more aggressive starting  with last year in Rome, becasue I played really well there. Before I had (a) back injury and it was very hard and I couldn’t play at my level but after that I did really well.”

” I am very happy to be top ten . It’s amazing. Now I can see that I can play the highest level in tennis so I want to continue to be focused.”

She admits that she enjoys the perks of being in the top ten. “I have the bigger car,” she said. As a top ten player it entitles her to a bigger car at tournaments. She enjoys driving and one of the reasons she loves this tournament is that she can drive.

She recently purchased a Range Rover back home in Romania.

Halep’s biggest triumph came in Doha last month, where she beat three top ten players for the title. ” After Australia I thought I could be at highest level of tennis, now I am really happy that I can play in top ten.”

 

Jelena Jankovic

Jelena Jankovic models new French Open Fila dress

Jelena Jankovic walked into her roundtable session modeling her new Fila outfit for the French Open accompanied by the designer Ginny Hilfiger.

Jankovic reacted to her former coach Nick Bollettieri being named for induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. “Nick is an amazing person,” Jankovic said. “He’s the one who helped me quite a  lot, you know when it comes to my game brought me a lot at young age.”

“He helped me to believe in myself,” said the former No. 1.

 

 

azarenka-cincy-slider-1

Victoria Azarenka is coming back from a foot injury

By viewing her practices on Monday, one could tell that No. 4 Victoria Azarenka was in some type of pain. She told media that her foot injury had her in a walking boot for three weeks last month. She confessed that she’s only been able to practice for less than a week.

“When you hear for the first time from the doctor that you have to wear a boot for three weeks and the tournament is four-and-a-half weeks away you’re like ‘OK, let’s see how it goes,’” she said. “I just wanted to stay positive and do the best job as possible.”

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