Kvitova begins Wimbledon defense, Serena Williams, Azarenka through

Petra Kvitova

WIMBLEDON – Defending Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, second seed Victoria Azarenka and four-time former champion Serena Williams all moved into the second round at the All England Club with straight set victories on Tuesday.

The Czech Kvitova started out slowly, coming back from a 1-4 first set deficit to defeat Uzbek Akgul Amanmuradova 6-4, 6-4 in a rain-interrupted match.

“I was nervous,” said Kvitova about the start of the match.  “It was first time for me to be as the defending champion of the Grand Slam.  You know, it was huge honor to come to the Centre Court.

“Of course I would like to make everyone happy, but it’s not that easy.  Yeah, it was lot of firsts for me today, but I’m happy that I stayed calm inside and not to be panic in the important points.”

Kvitova hit 24 winners and six aces in match.

Serena Williams playing on the same court, Court 2, which saw her sister Venus lose on Monday, stopped Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-2, 6-4.

Williams broke the 62nd ranked Czech three times to dominate the first set and then traded breaks in the second set.

Williams let out a cry of relief at the end of the match.

“Definitely a little relief, said Williams, “and, you know, I think I was letting out a lot of cries.  I was happy to get through that.

Williams spoke about her sister Venus who is suffering from an auto-immune disorder: “I don’t think I could have what she has and continue to be the way she is and to be so tough and continue everything she’s been doing.”


Williams was asked about how she has transcended the sport into celebrity-dom with 2.7 million twitter followers. “I think just being involved in a sport that’s traditionally white and being a black girl and coming out and doing so awesome in general is gonna open eyes of watchers that don’t normally watch tennis or has never even thought to watch tennis.  So I think that has a lot to do with it” Williams said.

“I also think that ‑‑ I mean, I think I have a pretty outgoing personality.  Maybe not today, but normally I’m pretty upbeat and funny.  I don’t know.  I think I’m really an outgoing individual, and I’m not afraid to wear my emotions on my sleeve or speak my mind on a lot of different things or just be myself.”


No. 2 Azarenka had to deal with some serving woes to get past American Irina Falconi 6-1, 6-4. The Belarusian double faulted nine times during the match.

Azarenka ran off a 6-1, 4-1 lead and the American made her way back to 4-4, but Azarenka held on to win.



Hampton Shines on a day when most Americans fall at Wimbledon

WIMBLEDON – Jamie Lee Hampton in her first match at the All England Club upset 27th seed Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia 6-4, 7-6 (1) on Monday evening.

“I’m kind of liking it right now,” noted Hampton about playing on grass.

The 22-year-old who had to retire from her opening match at the French Open last month because of two herniated discs was worried that her injury would return.

“In the back of my mind I’m sure I was worried about whether my back was going to hold up or not, Hampton said It’s a little stiff but it’s all right. It sounds worse than it is.”

On a day when seven Americans lost including Venus Williams, John Isner, Melanie Oudin, Donald Young, James Blake and Vania King, the young woman ranked 100th in the world was one of only five Americans to be victorious on Wimbledon’s opening day. The other winning US players -Sloane Stephens, Ryan Harrison, Michael Russell and Ryan Sweeting.


As for her match against Hantuchova , “I’m just trying to play my game, dictate, push her around a little bit and make her play defense,” Hampton said.

The American hit 27 winners past Hantuchova with four aces and winning most of the longer rallies.
Hampton’s Wimbledon adventure continues on Wednesday as she’ll play Great Britain’s Heather Watson, ranked 103rd in the world.


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Gulbis Stuns Sixth Seed Berdych at Wimbledon

WIMBLEDON - Ernests Gulbis pulled off the upset of the day at Wimbledon on Monday when the Latvia topped sixth seed Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4), 7-6 (4).

Berdych who was the runner-up to Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon in 2010 had no answer for Gulbis’ serve as the Latvian nailed 30 aces, along with 62 winners.

“I have been playing really well in the practices, Gulbis said.  “In the practices I beat everybody.  Really, whoever I practiced with, he was out.  Yeah, it gives me some confidence, you know.  Even the practices give you some confidence.

“I was a bit nervous in the beginning of the match, but then the way I served, it opened me up, and starting from second set I just got more relaxed.”

“It’s really simple:  you practice, results will come,” added Gulbis.  “You don’t practice, results will not come.  Also you have to practice in the right way which suits you.  Everybody has their own way of practicing.

“One likes to play one hour a day and go five hours in the gym.  One likes to play a lot and don’t go to gym.  So you have to find your own balance, and you have your own formula and you go for it.  Then it’s easy.

If you find your formula, if you practice good enough and a lot, the results will come”


“I’m just 23 years old.  I’m going to be 24 this year.  You know, a lot of players mature later than others.  Some mature at 15; some mature the 29.  I hope it’s somewhere in between; 23 is okay.”

Gulbis is currently working with Austrian coach Gunther Bresnik.

“I have been really working hard last month with the new coach, in a new place.  I did good preparation here the week before.  That’s the result, you know.  I really enjoy working with my new coach, Gunther Bresnik.  He’s based in Austria.  First time I came to him and his academy I asked him to come to Paris and then Wimbledon as well.

“It’s really been good.  He really helped me a lot.”

“So we see.  I don’t know.  I don’t want to make any predictions.  Just go match by match.  I play well today.  Let’s see what happens next round.”

Gulbis will try to reach the third round when he takes on Jerzy Janowicz of Poland next.


Isner Upset by Falla at Wimbledon

Eleventh seed, American John Isner in another five-set at Wimbledon lost to No. 73 Alejandro Falla of Colombia 6-4, 6-7 (7), 3-6, 7-6 (7), 7-5 in the first round of Wimbledon on Monday.

Falla fought off a match point and 31 aces from the 6-foot-9 Isner in coming back from two sets to one down and surprisingly won 27 of 34 points at the net.

“I didn’t put my opponent away.  I had my chances, and I didn’t do it,” Isner said.  “It’s all on me.  Was just not great on my part.

“I had to take some time off after the French, and I was back and forth from North Carolina and Florida for family reasons.  But, no, I mean, I did what I normally do.  I felt fine coming into here.

“It’s just now I get out there sometimes, and lately it’s happening quite a lot, and I get out there in the match and I’m just so clouded.  I just can’t seem ‑‑ I just can’t seem to figure things out.  I’m my own worst enemy out there.  It’s all mental for me, and it’s pretty poor on my part.”

Isner added, “He was better than me today, and that’s what it comes down to.  You know, I had chances, and I didn’t take them.  So on my part, that’s my bad.


“So he deserved to win.  I don’t deserve to win that match at all.”

Isner said that the next tournament he’ll play is the Atlanta Tennis Championships.


Isner won the longest match in tennis history an 11-hour, 5-minute marathon in the first round of Wimbledon in 2010.


Venus Williams Ousted in Wimbledon First Round

WIMBLEDON – Five-time champion Venus Williams was dismissed in straight sets by Russia’s Elena Vesnina 6-1, 6-3 on the tournament’s opening day. It was only the second time that the 32-year-old has ever lost in the first round at Wimbledon.

“I did my best today,” the 58th ranked Williams said. “ You know, my opponent played well.”

“Well, I think that’s the biggest win in my career,” Vesnina said.  “Beat Venus in Wimbledon is just something amazing.

“Actually, I really wanted to play against her ’cause I have so much respect to both Serena and Venus.  It’s always really tough to play against them.  They’re great champions.

“Today I was just enjoying my time on that court.  I was really believing in my win today, that I could really win that match, and I think that really helped me today.”

Vesnina will face third seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the second round.

“I think she’s one of the greatest athletes,” Vesnina said of Williams. “First of all, in the whole sport.  And she’s a great champion.  She won Wimbledon so many times.  Like on the court, you can see that she has really great attitude on the court.

“Even now, I mean, she’s not in the top 10, but you can still feel she will get few more matches and she can be back again.  Williams sisters, they have this power.  They have this ability to come back from nowhere.  They know how to do that.  They know how to play Grand Slams.  They know how to win Grand Slams.  I think that’s the most important thing from them.”

The American only held serve once in the first set, but was more competitive in the second.

Williams is looking forward to the Olympics.

“Well, that’s all I’ve fought for this whole year,” Williams noted, “so I hope that I can play well there.  For me it will just be an honor to be there, and try to capitalize on that moment.

“I’m really proud of my efforts to get my rankings up for the Olympics.  That’s one of the toughest things I’ve ever done in my life.  So now I don’t really feel that much pressure, to be honest.  I want to win.”

Williams  who suffers from an autoimmune, fatigue-inducing illness called Sjogren’s Syndrome spoke about her drive to continue to play after the Olympics: “I feel like I am a great player.  I am a great player.  Unfortunately, I had a deal with circumstances that people don’t normally have to deal with in this sport.

“But I can’t be discouraged by that, so I’m up for challenges.  I have great tennis in me.  I just need the opportunity.

“There’s no way I’m just going to sit down and give up just because I have a hard time the first five or six freakin’  tournaments back.”

Williams lists her sister Serena as “inspirational” in her comeback. “Of course Serena Williams has been inspirational, said Venus Williams.  “She’s fought back near‑death experiences ‑ several.  I’m very motivated by her and nothing getting her down and everything that she’s been through that no one even knows about.  That’s definitely inspirational, that in itself.

“There’s been a lot of people in this world that fought back from the brink.  I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself because of everything that’s going on.  I have to be positive.

“I love this sport.  I feel like I can play well and I’m not going to give up on that.”


I don’t have time to be negative.  I don’t know if you’ve had any negative experience, but it’s not fun.  I like to use the same time to be positive because it feels a whole lot better.  And also it’s easier to be productive when you’re positive, so that’s what I work on.”

“But I’m tough, let me tell you, tough as nails.”

Wimbledon singles may be over for Williams this year but she will compete in the doubles with her sister Serena and plans on playing Wimbledon in 2013.

“I’m playing doubles here, so I’m going to really try to hone my doubles, do that, and then I’ll go to the Olympics,” said Williams.