2015/04/01

Simona Halep Wins Dubai Tennis Championships for Second Title of the Year

Photos by Nida Alibhai

(February 21, 2015) DUBAI, UAE – Simona Halep defeated Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 7-6(4) on Saturday to win the Dubai Tennis Championships for her 10th WTA title of her career, second title of 2015 and her second Premier 5-level victory. Halep won a title in Shenzen, China in January.

Halep won the first set in 41 minutes breaking the Czech’s serve in the seventh game.

Pliskova got off to a 2-0 start in the second set, but Halep rebounded to get back on serve, then get ahead to serve for the match at 5-4. Halep failed to close out the match serving at both 5-4 and 6-5, reaching match points in both service games. The last six games in the set were breaks of serve.

“I was trying to turn it around, but even if I won the second set, I don’t know if I would have won the whole match,” Pliskova said. “It would still have been hard because she doesn’t give up on any point. She runs really, really well, and it’s hard to kill the ball against her. She really gets everything back.”

“She played very well, it’s hard to explain how I feel, it’s a big title for me,” Halep said on court.

“I knew she had a big serve, I believe I have a good return. I stayed focused on every point.”

Halep won the last four points of the tiebreak to claim the match.

“I did two double faults at 6‑5,” said Halep. “I cannot imagine how I could serve with 100 kilometers just to put the ball on court but I couldn’t. But in tiebreak I was strong and I stayed very focused and I was fighting till the end. That was the most important, I think.”

“She played very well….it’s hard to explain how I feel, it’s a big title for me,” Halep said.

“I’m very happy now, and I cannot explain words how I feel,” said Halep. “It’s just an amazing title for me. It’s very important for my career. I’m really happy, and I just want to enjoy this moment.”

“Of course I lost so I’m not really happy, but obviously I’m happy for the week and for the last two or three weeks,” said Pliskova.

For the 23-year-old Romanian, the win moves her ranking back up to No. 3 in the world. Pliskova is expected to rise to No. 12 when the rankings are released on Monday.

“At the beginning of the tournament some people asked me if I felt pressure because I was the No.1 seed,” Halep said. “I said no, because I wasn’t thinking about it, and I just wanted to go on court and play match by match, because everyone would play really well here. And I played with big players like Makarova, Pliskova, Wozniacki – she was No.1 two years. So it’s honestly just an amazing victory for me.”

The doubles title went to Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic, who beat Garbine Muguruza and Carla Suarez Navarro 6-3, 6-2. It was their fourth final together, and their first title.

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Halep and Pliskova Reach Dubai Final

Photos by Nida Alibhai

(February 20, 2015) DUBAI, UAE – Top seed Simona Halep will play Karolina Pliskova in the final of the Dubai Tennis Championships on Saturday.

Halep rebounded after dropping the opening set to defeat Caroline Wozniacki 2-6, 6-1, 6-1, while Pliskova came through an almost three hour match with a 6-4, 5-7, 7-5 win over Garbine Muguruza.

“I was trying everything,” Wozniacki said of the match. “I was just making so many errors, and I don’t really know where they came from. I think I was just tired. You know, it’s been a long week for me.””

“I started the match with a bad tactic,” Halep said. “I just wanted to hit every ball, and I did many mistakes. I couldn’t find the rhythm. So in the second set I said that I have to change it and just to play with a good length and to open the court more. I didn’t want to force too much like in first set. That worked very well for me.”

 

“It was a really long match,” said Pliskova. “There was so many close points and close games. I was losing. She had some break points in the third set, as well. There’s just few points which is deciding.”

“I think the key was her serve,” said Muguruza. “She served so good. I couldn’t break her serve. I mean, obviously when you cannot break the other one’s serve you feel a lot of pressure with your serve. But it was a very good week. I won incredible matches.”

Halep is looking to win her second title of the year, the Romanian won in Shenzen in January. Pliskova will be playing in her second final of the year, losing in the final at Sydney.

 

DUBAI DUTY FREE TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS – DUBAI, UAE
$ 2,513,000.00
15-21 FEBRUARY 2015

RESULTS – FEBRUARY 20, 2015
Women’s
Singles – Semifinals

[1] S. Halep (ROU) d [3] C. Wozniacki (DEN) 26 61 61
[17] Ka. Pliskova (CZE) d G. Muguruza (ESP) 64 57 75

Women’s
Doubles – Semifinals

[6] G Muguruza (ESP) / C Suárez Navarro (ESP) d A Kudryavtseva (RUS) / A Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 62 63
[8] T Babos (HUN) / K Mladenovic (FRA) d [7] C Garcia (FRA) / K Srebotnik (SLO) 36 61 10-5

ORDER OF PLAY – SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2015
CENTRE COURT start 5:00 pm
DOUBLES FINAL – [6] G Muguruza (ESP) / C Suárez Navarro (ESP) vs [8] T Babos (HUN) / K Mladenovic (FRA)

Not Before 7:00 pm
SINGLES FINAL – [1] S. Halep (ROU) vs [17] Ka. Pliskova (CZE)

 

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Halep and Wozniacki Reach Dubai Semifinals

Photos by Nida Alibhai

(February 19, 2015) Dubai UAETop seeded Simona Halep will play third seeded Caroline Wozniacki, and 17th seed Karolina Pliskova will play unseeded Garbine Muguruza in the semifinals of the Dubai Tennis Championships on Friday.

 

It took Halep two hours and seven minutes to beat Etkaterina Makarova 6-3, 1-6, 7-5 and avenge her defeat by in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open last month. Wozniacki withstood a competitive first set to beat Flavia Pennetta 7-5, 6-0.

 

Pliskova needed two hours 26 minutes to rally past Lucie Safarova 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-1 and Muguruza took two hours 19 minutes to overcome Carla Suarez Navarro 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-3.

 

Halep failed to serve out the match at 5-3 and then needing five match points to clinch the win.

 

“I didn’t believe in my serve at that moment, and I just tried to finish very quickly and wasn’t good idea,” said Halep. “I was very nervous, and I wanted just to hit winners. It’s not possible at this level, and she’s a good player. I’m really happy that I could finish in the right way and to win, because it was a tough match.”

 

Wozniacki has been struggling with a sore throat this week.

 

“I knew that when I’m out there I need to focus 100% on each point,” said Wozniacki. “I can’t just give loose ones away, because that means longer time on court which means I have less of a chance of winning, so especially like now. I think that’s definitely helped me focus.”

 

Pliskova’s win was her second in two weeks over Safarova after she also won their quarter-final match in Antwerp, but she had to work hard to gain an advantage.

 

“I would say that she deserved to win as well. I’m a little bit sorry for her,” said Pliskova, “I called coach and he really helped me, and that’s probably the main thing why I won the second set, and then why I won the third set as well.”

 

Muguruza beat her friend, doubles partner and fellow Spaniard Suarez Navarro.

 

“I was sad because I lost the first set, but I said, ‘If I want to win this match I cannot play bad the second set’,” said Muguruza. “My only chance is to win the second set and try to have chances to win the match. So I said, Okay, the second set I’m going to give it all, and if I win I will have options to win the match.”

 

DUBAI DUTY FREE TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS – DUBAI, UAE
$ 2,513,000.00
15-21 FEBRUARY 2015

RESULTS – FEBRUARY 19, 2015
Women’s
Singles – Quarterfinals

[1] S. Halep (ROU) d [6] E. Makarova (RUS) 63 16 75
[3] C. Wozniacki (DEN) d [10] [WC] F. Pennetta (ITA) 75 60
[17] K. Pliskova (CZE) d [11] L. Safarova (CZE) 36 76(5) 61
G. Muguruza (ESP) d [13] C. Suárez Navarro (ESP) 67(4) 63 63

Women’s
Doubles – Quarterfinals

[7] C Garcia (FRA) / K Srebotnik (SLO) d [2] E Makarova (RUS) / E Vesnina (RUS) 75 62
[6] G Muguruza (ESP) / C Suárez Navarro (ESP) d A Rodionova (AUS) / A Rodionova (AUS) 75 64
[8] T Babos (HUN) / K Mladenovic (FRA) d M Niculescu (ROU) / A Panova (RUS) 76(6) 64
A Kudryavtseva (RUS) / A Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) d J Goerges (GER) / A Groenefeld (GER) 75 76(1)

ORDER OF PLAY – FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2015
CENTRE COURT start 2:00 pm
[8] T Babos (HUN) / K Mladenovic (FRA) vs [7] C Garcia (FRA) / K Srebotnik (SLO)

Not Before 5:00 pm
[17] K. Pliskova (CZE) vs G. Muguruza (ESP)

Not Before 7:00 pm
[1] S. Halep (ROU) vs [3] C. Wozniacki (DEN)
A Kudryavtseva (RUS) / A Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) vs [6] G Muguruza (ESP) / C Suárez Navarro (ESP)

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Venus Williams, Kvitova, Ivanovic and Radwanska suffer early exits in Dubai

Photos by Nida Alibhai

(February 18, 2015) DUBAI, UAE – Wednesday marked a day of upsets at the Dubai Tennis Championships. Defending champion Venus Williams was beaten 6-4, 6-2 by Lucie Safarova in the third round along with No. 2 Petra Kvitova, fourth seed Ana Ivanovic, fifth seed Agnieszka Radwanska and seventh seed Angelique Kerber.

 

For three-time champion Williams, it snapped her 16-match win-streak, her first loss in Dubai since 2005.

 

“I think she played awesome,” said Williams of her conqueror Safarova. “There were a couple of games there that I didn’t even get my racquet on the ball. What can I say to that? I don’t think I played badly, but I couldn’t afford to make any errors today. The errors that I made were really costly, so, you know, credit to her. I wish her the best of luck the rest of the tournament.”

 

“I was firing the ball, serving really well,” Safarova said. “I put the pressure right away from the first point. My lefty serve into her body and mixing the lefty serve with the really flat and fast serves, that seems give her a little trouble.”

 

Second seed Kvitova fell to Carla Suarez Navarro 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.

 

“Yeah, everybody can beat everyone in the top,” The Czech said. “And, yeah, maybe it’s nice for the fans that they can see something new and some surprises, but not every time it’s nice for us.”

Radwanska was upset 6-4, 6-2 by Garbine Muguruza after arriving in Dubai struggling with her health.

 

“I think when you’re not playing your best tennis then it’s hard to compete with those kind of players,” said Radwanska. “I think I didn’t serve enough, you know, to win that. I think that was really important part in that match.”

 

Muguruza believes there is always a chance to upset the top players if you work hard and keep your concentration.

 

“I think that nowadays there are so many girls that play so good that the difference between the top players and the other ones are really small,” she said. “So I think that you have a chance if you work and play and be concentrate and do your game, I think you can beat them.”

 

The day was not all about upsets as top seed Simona Halep beat Tsvetana Pironkova 6-4, 6-3, third seed Caroline Wozniacki overcame 2014 Dubai finalist Alize Cornet 6-4, 6-0 and Ekaterina Makarova also advanced, beating Zarina Diyas 6-3, 6-4.

DUBAI DUTY FREE TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS – DUBAI, UAE
$ 2,513,000
15-21 FEBRUARY 2015

RESULTS – FEBRUARY 18, 2015
Singles – Third Round
[1] S. Halep (ROU) d T. Pironkova (BUL) 64 63
[13] C. Suárez Navarro (ESP) d [2] P. Kvitova (CZE) 63 46 63
[3] C. Wozniacki (DEN) d [15] A. Cornet (FRA) 64 60
[17] K. Pliskova (CZE) d [4] A. Ivanovic (SRB) 62 46 64
G. Muguruza (ESP) d [5] A. Radwanska (POL) 64 62
[6] E. Makarova (RUS) d Z. Diyas (KAZ) 63 64
[10] [WC] F. Pennetta (ITA) d [7] A. Kerber (GER) 62 36 61
[11] L. Safarova (CZE) d [8] V. Williams (USA) 64 62

Doubles – Second Round
A Kudryavtseva (RUS) / A Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) d [1] S Hsieh (TPE) / S Mirza (IND) 64 46 10-7
[2] E Makarova (RUS) / E Vesnina (RUS) d K Koukalova (CZE) / K Siniakova (CZE) 76(0) 64
A Rodionova (AUS) / A Rodionova (AUS) d [3] M Hingis (SUI) / F Pennetta (ITA) 63 76(2)
M Niculescu (ROU) / A Panova (RUS) d [4] S Peng (CHN) / K Peschke (CZE) 76(8) 76(7)
[6] G Muguruza (ESP) / C Suárez Navarro (ESP) d J Jankovic (SRB) / A Parra Santonja (ESP) 64 64
[7] C Garcia (FRA) / K Srebotnik (SLO) d M Erakovic (NZL) / H Watson (GBR) 63 64
[8] T Babos (HUN) / K Mladenovic (FRA) d [WC] F Al Nabhani (OMA) / M Barthel (GER) 61 62
J Goerges (GER) / A Groenefeld (GER) d C Dellacqua (AUS) / S Stosur (AUS) 64 62

ORDER OF PLAY – THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2015
CENTRE COURT start 2:00 pm
[11] L. Safarova (CZE) vs [17] K. Pliskova (CZE)
G. Muguruza (ESP) vs [13] C. Suárez Navarro (ESP)

Not Before 7:00 pm
[1] S. Halep (ROU) vs [6] E. Makarova (RUS)
[3] C. Wozniacki (DEN) vs [10] [WC] F. Pennetta (ITA)

COURT 1 start 2:00 pm
[8] T Babos (HUN) / K Mladenovic (FRA) vs M Niculescu (ROU) / A Panova (RUS)
A Kudryavtseva (RUS) / A Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) vs J Goerges (GER) / A Groenefeld (GER)

Not Before 6:00 pm
After suitable rest – A Rodionova (AUS) / A Rodionova (AUS) vs [6] G Muguruza (ESP) / C Suárez Navarro (ESP)
After suitable rest – [7] C Garcia (FRA) / K Srebotnik (SLO) vs [2] E Makarova (RUS) / E Vesnina (RUS)

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Venus Williams Dominates Swiss Teen Bencic at Dubai Tennis Championships

Venus Williams

(February 16, 2015) Thirty-four-year-old Venus Williams gave 17-year-old Belinda Bencic a tennis lesson on Monday at the Dubai Tennis Championships. Williams dominated the up-and-coming Swiss teenager 6-1, 6-2 to open up her title defense.

Williams, a three-time champion of the event, extended her streak in Dubai to 16 straight with the win over an opponent half her age.

“When I was 17, I didn’t think about what the age was of someone across the net,” Williams noted. “All you think of is I want to beat them.”

“At 34, I mean, I’m hitting a little bit harder than most people and playing some offense on the run and hitting the ball just as hard.”

 

DUBAI DUTY FREE TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS – DUBAI, UAE
$2,513,000
15-21 FEBRUARY 2015

RESULTS – FEBRUARY 16, 2015
Singles – Second Round
[8] V. Williams (USA) d B. Bencic (SUI) 61 62

First Round
[11] L. Safarova (CZE) d M. Puig (PUR) 61 64
[16] S. Peng (CHN) d [LL] E. Vesnina (RUS) 75 61
[17] K. Pliskova (CZE) d A. Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 62 64
[WC] D. Hantuchova (SVK) d M. Barthel (GER) 76(5) 36 63
[Q] K. Kozlova (UKR) d H. Watson (GBR) 64 75
[WC] C. Buyukakcay (TUR) d [Q] G. Dabrowski (CAN) 62 67(7) 64
[Q] Q. Wang (CHN) d K. Nara (JPN) 57 61 75
B. Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) d [Q] Y. Beygelzimer (UKR) 64 62
G. Muguruza (ESP) d [Q] J. Gajdosova (AUS) 36 61 62
C. Giorgi (ITA) d V. Zvonareva (RUS) 64 62
E. Svitolina (UKR) d C. Vandeweghe (USA) 31 ret. (right shoulder injury)

Doubles – First Round
J Goerges (GER) / A Groenefeld (GER) d [5] R Kops-Jones (USA) / A Spears (USA) 76(1) 62
C Dellacqua (AUS) / S Stosur (AUS) d J Gajdosova (AUS) / S Lisicki (GER) 63 64
A Rodionova (AUS) / A Rodionova (AUS) d K Jans-Ignacik (POL) / A Klepac (SLO) 62 61

ORDER OF PLAY – TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2015
CENTRE COURT start 12:00 pm
[5] A. Radwanska (POL) vs C. Garcia (FRA)
S. Lisicki (GER) vs [4] A. Ivanovic (SRB)
[3] C. Wozniacki (DEN) vs S. Stosur (AUS)

Not Before 7:00 pm
E. Svitolina (UKR) vs [2] P. Kvitova (CZE)
[1] S. Halep (ROU) vs [WC] D. Hantuchova (SVK)

COURT 1 start 12:00 pm
G. Muguruza (ESP) vs [12] J. Jankovic (SRB)
[9] A. Petkovic (GER) vs Z. Diyas (KAZ)
S. Kuznetsova (RUS) vs [7] A. Kerber (GER)
[10] [WC] F. Pennetta (ITA) vs [Q] Q. Wang (CHN)

COURT 2 start 12:00 pm
[13] C. Suárez Navarro (ESP) vs C. Giorgi (ITA)
[WC] C. Dellacqua (AUS) vs [11] L. Safarova (CZE)
[Q] K. Kozlova (UKR) vs [6] E. Makarova (RUS)
R Voracova (CZE) / Y Xu (CHN) vs [6] G Muguruza (ESP) / C Suárez Navarro (ESP)

COURT 3 start 12:00 pm
[WC] C. Buyukakcay (TUR) vs [15] A. Cornet (FRA)
[17] K. Pliskova (CZE) vs B. Zahlavova Strycova (CZE)
T. Pironkova (BUL) vs [16] S. Peng (CHN)
[7] C Garcia (FRA) / K Srebotnik (SLO) vs K Pliskova (CZE) / L Safarova (CZE)

COURT 7 start 12:00 pm
[8] T Babos (HUN) / K Mladenovic (FRA) vs D Jurak (CRO) / O Kalashnikova (GEO)
H Chan (TPE) / Y Chan (TPE) vs M Erakovic (NZL) / H Watson (GBR)
J Jankovic (SRB) / A Parra Santonja (ESP) vs Alternate / Unknown
M Krajicek (NED) / B Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) vs M Niculescu (ROU) / A Panova (RUS)
K Koukalova (CZE) / K Siniakova (CZE) vs M Minella (LUX) / A Petkovic (GER)

 

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Pennetta Survives Four Match Points to Advance in Dubai

Flavia Pennetta

(February 15, 2015) Italian wildcard and 10th seed Flavia Pennetta saved four match points in the second set before coming back to win 2-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4 over lucky loser Julia Goerges of Germany in the Dubai Tennis Championships on Sunday.

It appeared certain that Goerges was going to have the first upset of the tournament as she led by a set and 5-2 and held match points at 5-3. But Pennetta fought back held off a late charge from Goerges to win in two hours 15 minutes.

“I was just playing until the last point and believing until the last point,” Pennetta said of her win.

“I was almost crying on the court because I was feeling so bad, but sometimes you don’t feel really good in the beginning of the year. Last year I was really good in the beginning, and this year I’ve been trying to find my good tennis, but it’s not coming. But I have to play with what I have now.

“But I like to fight. When you fight and win matches like this, you get closer to a good level.”

Former Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki has set up clash with fourth seed and former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic as she defeated Monica Niculescu 6-3, 6-4, hitting 16 aces during the match. Rising star Belinda Bencic, who beat Karin Knapp will have a second round meeting with defending champion Venus Williams.

Tsvetana Pironkova overcame Klara Koukalova 6-3 4-6 6-3, but Svetlana Kuznetsova into the second round when Kaia Kanepi retired with a back injury as Kuznetsova was leading 4-1.

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2015 Australian Open Women’s Contender Profiles

(January 17, 2015) Profiles of the top Women’s Singles contenders for the 2015 Australian Open. Note: Grand Slam records for main draw matches only.  – by Jack Cunniff     http://twitter.com/jrcunniff

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

2014 Record: 52-8

Grand Slam Record: 259-39

Australian Open Record: 61-9

Australian Open Best Result: Won (2003, ’05, ’07. ’09, ‘10)

Fast Fact: At the Australian Open, Serena has only lost twice to a Top Ten player (2001 to Hingis, 2008 to Jankovic).

 

Maria Sharapova

2014 Record: 49-13

Grand Slam Record: 165-40

Australian Open Record: 42-10

Australian Open Best Result: Won (2008)

Fast Fact: With her win last week in Brisbane, Sharapova has won a title in each of the last 13 years, placing her 4th in the Open Era behind Navratilova (21), Evert (18), and Graf (14).

 

Simona Halep

2014 Record: 46-16

Grand Slam Record: 27-18

Australian Open Record: 6-4

Australian Open Best Result: QF (2014)

Fast Fact: Halep celebrated 50 consecutive weeks in the Top Ten, and will mark her one year anniversary during the Australian Open (reached No. 10 on Jan 27, 2014).

 

Petra Kvitova

2014 Record: 43-16

Grand Slam Record: 64-24

Australian Open Record: 11-6

Australian Open Best Result: SF (2012)

Fast Fact: Kvitova will play her 500th career match in the first round of the Australian Open.

 

Ana Ivanovic

2014 Record: 58-17

Grand Slam Record: 97-39

Australian Open Record: 24-10

Australian Open Best Result: RU (2008)

Fast Fact: Despite having her best season since 2008, Ivanovic lost to lower-ranked players at all of the Grand Slams in 2014.

 

Agnieszka Radwanska

2014 Record: 47-22

Grand Slam Record: 90-34

Australian Open Record: 24-8

Australian Open Best Result: SF (2014)

Fast Fact: Since beating Venus Williams to win 2014 Canadian Open (Montreal), Radwanska has a losing record, 8-9.

 

Eugenie Bouchard

2014 Record: 43-22

Grand Slam Record: 23-7

Australian Open Record: 5-1

Australian Open Best Result: SF (2014)

Fast Fact: Bouchard won more Grand Slam matches in 2014 than any other woman (19).

 

Caroline Wozniacki

2014 Record: 49-19

Grand Slam Record: 79-31

Australian Open Record: 22-7

Australian Open Best Result: SF (2011)

Fast Fact: Wozniacki has a 7-0 record in opening round matches at the Australian Open, the only Grand Slam event that she has not lost in the first round.

 

Angelique Kerber

2014 Record: 47-24

Grand Slam Record: 48-28

Australian Open Record: 11-7

Australian Open Best Result: 4R (2013, ‘14)

Fast Fact: Kerber has a 1-7 record against Top 50 players at the Australian Open.

 

Ekaterina Makarova

2014 Record: 41-21

Grand Slam Record: 48-29

Australian Open Record: 18-7

Australian Open Best Result: QF (2012, ‘13)

Fast Fact: In her last four Australian Open appearances, Makarova has defeated four Grand Slam champions (Ivanovic, S. Williams, Bartoli, V. Williams).

 

Dominika Cibulkova

2014 Record: 32-24

Grand Slam Record: 53-29

Australian Open Record: 13-7

Australian Open Best Result: RU (2014)

Fast Fact: Cibulkova has won only six matches since Wimbledon, as many matches as she won en route to the Australian Open final in 2014.

 

Flavia Pennetta

2014 Record: 33-20

Grand Slam Record: 69-45

Australian Open Record: 13-11

Australian Open Best Result: QF (2014)

Fast Fact: Pennetta had a losing record at the Australian Open until reaching the QF in 2014.

 

Andrea Petkovic

2014 Record: 41-23

Grand Slam Record: 31-20

Australian Open Record: 6-5

Australian Open Best Result: QF (2011)

Fast Fact: Petkovic hasn’t won a match at the Australian Open since 2011 (def. Sharapova 4R).

 

Venus Williams

2014 Record: 32-14

Grand Slam Record: 221-57

Australian Open Record: 41-14

Australian Open Best Result: RU (2003)

Fast Fact: With her 2014 Australian Open appearance, Venus moves into 3rd place in the Open Era with 65 Slam appearances, trailing only Frazier (71) and Navratilova (67).

 

Victoria Azarenka

2014 Record: 15-9

Grand Slam Record: 101-32

Australian Open Record: 32-7

Australian Open Best Result: Won (2012, ’13)

Fast Fact: Azarenka enters a Grand Slam event unseeded for the first time since 2007 U.S. Open, after 27 Slams where she was seeded.

 

 

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Serena Williams Three-Peats at WTA Finals

Singapore trophy presentation

(October 26, 2014) Serena Williams avenged a round-robin stage loss to Simona Halep and gave the Romanian a dose of her own medicine, as the American claimed her third straight WTA Finals championship on Sunday routing the fourth seed 6-3, 6-0.

Just four days ago Halep demolished Williams during the group stage 6-0, 6-2. The 33-year-old veteran turned the tables on her 23-year-old opponent on Sunday, winning 11 of the last 12 games of the match.

For Williams, it’s her fifth year-end championship, which puts her in a tie for second all-time with Steffi Graf, behind Martina’s Navratilova with eight. In winning her 64th career title, Williams is now just three behind Billie Jean King for the seventh-most of the Open Era. For the fourth time in her career Williams has won at least seven titles during a season.
“I just started training again last week because I had such a bad knee in Beijing,” said the 18-time major winner. “I can’t believe I even made it to Singapore, and now I have the Billie Jean King Trophy, so I’m just really excited.”

Halep admitted to being tense. “I was nervous before the match that I had to play this big final,” she said. “I couldn’t manage very well the situation.”

“I was a little bit nervous. I was tired a little bit and I couldn’t make the step into the court and to, you know, open the court to play more aggressive.”

“I knew that she would be more motivated during this match because we played a few days ago and I won.”

Williams played a relentless attacking game on Sunday, different from her Thursday encounter with Halep.

“I had to play more Serena‑style tennis and just do what I do best: enforce myself,” said the world No. 1 who hit 25 winners on the day. “That’s what I was trying to do.”

“I knew she will play better this match because she saw how I play, she saw what she has to do during the match,” Halep said.

“So she did really well today.”

“I gave everything today, and, you know, that was my level today,” Halep said. “Wasn’t my best day, but I’m still happy and I’m still enjoying this moment because it’s a good moment for me.”

 

“She was more motivated and more focused maybe this match, and she tried to hit the balls very strong.

“Like I said before, every day is a new day, it’s different day. So we saw today that was different day.”

The twist and turns of the situation of the group stage that let Williams qualify for the semifinals in the first place, was Halep taking a set off Ana Ivanovic in her final round-robin match. Had Halep not won a set off of the Serb, Williams would not have reached the semifinals.

“No, I have no regrets, because I did my job on court against Ivanovic,” Halep. “I tried to win the match. I couldn’t, but I never thought that I have to lose in two sets against Ivanovic.

“That was the chance. She deserves to win the title. She’s much better. So, yeah, it’s okay. I have no regrets.”

Williams said she would have done the same thing if she were in Halep’s situation.

“We play and give our all for everything,” Williams said.

“She (Halep) definitely gives her all, so I don’t think that went through her mind at all. If anything, she would’ve won three matches would’ve had a chance to go for more points, more money. It’s a much better incentive to try your best.”

For Halep, it’s been a career year for the Romanian now ranked No. 3 for 2014. She reached No. 2 in the world and was a finalist at the French Open – A big improvement from her No. 64 ranking less than two years ago.

“I improved a lot this year, this period, so I’m happy with my game,” Halep said.

“I can say that my dream is to win a Grand Slam, but I don’t know if I can next year.

“I want just to be focused for every tournament, to take very important ‑‑ every tournament to be very important for me.

“I want to improve more in my game, and then we will see what is going to happen. I want to remain in top 10 next year.”

Williams talked about her rollercoaster ride of a year in 2014.
“It’s been a really difficult year for me,” Williams admitted. “I don’t think I’ve had such an up and down year. I started out well with Brisbane; then didn’t do well in Australia; then I did well again in Miami.

“It was really up and down. I ended the year well. I had a couple injuries in the beginning of Asia, but I’m glad I came and I was able to end well. So I think that was important. How you start is how you finish, right?”

Williams took home a check for two million dollars and will have an orchid named after her for victory this week.

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Williams, Halep Set Up Rematch at WTA Finals

Serena Williams
By Stephanie Neppl

(October 25, 2014) SINGAPORE – Serena Williams survived, and Simona Halep cruised. The two will face off for the second time at the WTA Finals in Singapore, this time with the title on the line.

The semifinals were a complete contrast but they were consistent to the tournament for each player. Williams barely made the semifinals, needing Halep to help keep her in the tournament by winning at least a set in her match yesterday against Ana Ivanovic. Halep, on the other hand, was the first player to qualify and she won her first two matches without dropping a set, including the 6-0, 6-2 drubbing of Williams.

Here’s how the semifinals unfolded:

[1] Serena Williams (USA) vs [8] Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark)

The two close friends spent Friday night together at the Mariah Carey concert which was held at the Singapore Sports Hub. Saturday they battled out in front of an appreciative crowd for more than two hours to determine whose season would end, and who would advance to Sunday’s final.

Wozniacki was the better player for the first set, and her deep and well-placed groundstrokes kept Williams off balance as she raced to a 3-0 lead. The American, on the other hand, was erratic especially on her backhand side and Wozniacki held with ease as Williams’ return game was off. The first set took just 25 minutes, and the Dane won it 6-2.

In the second set, Williams’ service games perhaps helped her settle into the match, and she didn’t face a break point all set long. She managed to finally break Wozniacki to go up 3-2 and she got a second break up 5-3 as Wozniacki double faulted down set point to level the match at a set apiece.

The match was just 56 minutes old as the third set began, and both players’ level was strong. Williams served first, and she held her first two games without facing break point. It was Wozniacki who had to fight off the first break point serving at 1-2, but she held on as the rallies and quality of play improved. The two held their serves until the score hit 4-4. Then it was Williams, who hadn’t faced a break point since the first set, who would lose her serve to go down 5-4 as Woznaicki prepared to serve for the match, and the win against a player she had only beaten once in 10 tries.

Serving at 5-4, Williams struck hard and fast. She hit three winners to get to double break point, and she was able to break to thrill the crowd and level the set at 5-5.

Williams then had to fight off her nerves through a tough service hold. She went down break point again but Wozniacki hit a routine backhand into the net. On her second game point, Williams was able to hold and win her third straight games as the crowd went wild.

Receiving up 6-5, Williams hit three errors to give Wozniacki two game points but huge returns by the top-seed brought up a match point, which was saved by the Dane after an amazing rally. Wozniacki would hold serve, and the match would be decided by a tiebreak.

Wozniacki went up 4-1 in the tiebreak as Williams was misfiring her groundstrokes. But from then Williams won five straight points, the first off a Wozniacki double fault, to earn two more match points up 6-4. But the dramatic match ensued, as the world No. 1 could not convert either. But at 6-6, she fired her 12th ace of the match to set up a 4th match point, which she would finally convert to edge Wozniacki 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (6) in a thriller.

Williams said at 1-4 down in the third set tiebreak she thought “Well, I guess I have to go home now. You know, I told you to get up early in the tiebreak and now you’re down 1‑4. You didn’t listen.”

The American admitted said that if she did play Halep again, she would start out with low expectations. “I’m excited. My goal is to win three games. That’ll be my first goal. I’m going to go from there. Hopefully I can hold serve. That would be good. Most of all, I hope to break once. So I’m starting out with low goals. Then I’m going to go from there. She played really, really well. Even she said she played really well. I’m just going to do the best that I can do and see what happens.”

Wozniacki, who was consistently solid throughout her four WTA Finals matches, was disappointed but said it was a great match. “I played all I could today. I played my heart out. I fought until the end. You know, you can always look back and say, I could have done this and that, but at the end of the day I couldn’t. I played the best I could today. Today, Serena just got the better of me in the end.”

[6] Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland) vs [4] Simona Halep (Romania)

For all the suspense and drama the first semifinal had, the second one offered little doubt who would meet Serena in Sunday’s final.

Halep was just ‘too good’ against Radwanska, and she cruised to a quick 6-2, 6-2 win in just 67 minutes. Halep saved 1 of 2 break points she faced, while the Pole was only able to fight off 1 of the 6 she faced.

The Romanian, coming into the match on the heels of a three-set loss to Ivanovic on Friday night, cranked 26 winners against Radwanska, who only hit 4. Both had 13 unforced errors.

Radwanska said her opponent played a fantastic match, “I think she was very solid from the beginning. No mistakes. Everything coming back. Changing lines. You know, deep balls. Serving very well. I think everything was working for her today, I guess.”

Halep could only agree that she played a wonderful match: “Yeah, it was a great match for everything. Went perfect I think today. I played really well and moved really well on court. I feel very happy because I could play at this level. She’s also great player, but today everything was very well for me.”

The Romanian said Sunday’s final would be a different match than her round robin match against Williams. “Yeah, I played few days ago and it was a very good match for me. But tomorrow will be different. I am prepared for everything. I just want to enjoy the match, enjoy the final first, and then to think what I have to do on court. I know how to play, so we’ll see tomorrow if my game is going to be the same like today.”

Sunday, October 26 schedule:

Centre Court – 4pm

The Doubles Final

Centre court – not before 7pm

(1) Serena Williams vs. (4) Simona Halep

Stephanie Neppl is in Singapore covering the WTA Finals for Tennis Panorama News. She spends all her spare funds traveling to tennis tournaments and has played since her teen years. Follow her live updates on Twitter at @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal Twitter @stephintheus and her blog  http://ihaveatennisaddiction.blogspot.com.

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Semifinals set at WTA Finals while Serena Williams clinches year-end No. 1

 

By Stephanie Neppl

 

(October 24, 2014) SINGAPORE – Semifinal berths and the year-end WTA No. 1 ranking were on the line as the last round of WTA Finals round-robin play began on Friday.

 

Many scenarios existed to see who would be playing in Saturday’s semifinals, with just Simona Halep having already secured her spot. In the end, Caroline Wozniacki, Agnieszka Radwanska and Serena Williams would complete the semifinal line-up.

 

Here’s how the day’s matches unfolded:

[2] Maria Sharapova (Russia) vs [6] Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland)

Sharapova had to beat Radwanska in straight sets to keep her hopes alive to advance to the semifinals. The two had a messy start to the match as both hit a fair share of errors as they settled in. Sharapova broke first to go up 2-1, but couldn’t consolidate as both players struggled to find their consistency.

 

Break points were frequent, and it was Sharapova who would get a critical break at 4-4 to serve out the first set. Up 5-4, the Russian was broken after saving three break points so the set was level again at 5-5. But three winners in the next game helped Sharapova break again and she served out the set on her second try, 7-5.

 

The second set looked to be quick for the world No. 2, who raised her game and Radwanska looked resigned to the loss. Sharapova went up 5-1 and had two match points on the Pole’s serve to clinch a straight set win. From that stage, Radwanska started playing solid tennis and she broke Sharapova’s serve twice to get herself back in the match at 5-5.

 

Sharapova twice served for the match, but never reached match point on her own serve. The set eventually went to a tiebreaker, and the momentum was still on Radwanska’s side. She was able to nose ahead in the tiebreak as Sharapova errors kept her behind the whole way. Down 6-4 in the tiebreaker, the Russian double faulted to end her chances to advance to the semifinals. By dropping the set, Sharapova was eliminated from the WTA Finals, meaning Serena Williams clinched year-end #1 for the fourth time.

 

Despite letting the second set slip away, Sharapova was able to regroup and broke Radwanska twice in the third set to win the last four games for the 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-2 win to end her season with a victory.

 

Sharapova said after the match that she was happy to end the tournament with a win. “I just really wanted to win this match. I had so many chances and it was just not the way that I wanted to go out in the tournament. That was my goal no matter how physical the match or how tough it was to lose that second set was, I wanted to win it.”

 

[3] Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic) vs [8] Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark)

Wozniacki had already qualified for the semifinals, but she took on Kvitova with the chance to finish 3-0 and finish atop the White Group. Kvitova needed to win the match in order to move on the semifinals, or else Radwanska was in.

 

Kvitova got off to a solid start, breaking early for a 2-1 lead. But Wozniacki was hitting freely and much more aggressively than usual, most likely due to the fact she had already advanced to the semifinals. The Dane reeled off five straight games to take the first set, 6-2.

 

The Czech, who admitted that she was feeling “tired and sick of tennis for a moment” after her loss to Radwanska earlier in the week, showed she wasn’t going away and her huge groundstrokes helped her race out to a 2-0 lead. But it all fell apart again for Kvitova, and Wozniacki’s defense and consistency helped her get a key break at 4-3, and she served out the match for a 6-2, 6-3 win.

 

The victory meant Kvitova, known for her indoor tennis prowess, was out of the 2014 WTA Finals with a 1-2 record and Radwanska finished second in the White Group.

 

Wozniacki finished atop the White Group and said it’s been a great week so far in Singapore. “It’s been a great week. I think I have nothing to complain about. Great tennis and some good wins. It’s just been really nice. You know, I’ve been playing some really good tennis, and today I think is one of the best matches I’ve ever play.”

 

[4] Simona Halep (Romania) vs [7] Ana Ivanovic (Serbia)

The final round-robin singles match was full of intrigue, as the fate of world No. 1 Serena Williams’ standing at the tournament rested on Simona Halep. If Ivanovic managed to defeat Halep in straight sets, Williams was out and Ivanovic would be in the WTA Finals semifinals for the first time since 2007.

 

It all seemed to be going Halep’s, and Williams’, way in the first set. Halep jumped out to a 5-2, double break lead and served for the set. From that stage, she lost four straight games as Ivanovic became more aggressive and many Halep backhands, her best shot, repeatedly found the net.

 

Halep steadied the ship to hold serve down 5-6 and the two engaged in a tense tiebreak. Ivanovic took a 5-2 lead but a forehand error and double fault helped Halep level it at 5-5. The Romanian had a set point up 6-5, but hit a forehand into the net. Ivanovic then hit a backhand long up set point at 7-6 before she managed to grab another set point with a forehand winner and she sealed her first set comeback as she won the tiebreak, 9-7.

 

The second set moved along similarly to the first set, with Halep showing no signs of giving anything but her all in the match. She again led 4-1 before handing the break back while serving at 4-2. But this time, the Romanian would not relent, and she broke at 4-3 and served out the set at love.

 

With the loss of a set, Ivanovic would no longer advance to the semifinal stage, meaning Williams was in. But the Serbian fought hard in the third and broke to go up 5-3 in an effort to end her 2014 season with a win. She served out the match at love to take it 7-6 (7) 3-6 6-3.

 

Ivanovic admitted her disappointment that she did not advance to Saturday’s semifinals. “Yeah, it’s mixed emotions obviously because I feel like it was such a great match tonight, yet it’s such a low not to be able to qualify for the semifinals. Still, on a positive note I won two matches, finished the season with a victory. It’s been amazing year for me.“

 

So, the semifinals will be Williams against Wozniacki and Halep versus Radwanska. Williams leads the head to head 9-1, while Halep leads hers 4-2.

 

RESULTS – OCTOBER 24, 2014
Singles – Round Robin – Red Group
[7] Ana Ivanovic (Serbia) d [4] Simona Halep (Romania) 76(7) 36 63

Final Standings
1) Simona Halep 2-1 (.714 sets)
2) Serena Williams 2-1 (.667 sets)
3) Ana Ivanovic 2-1 (.537 sets)
4) Eugenie Bouchard 0-3

Round Robin – White Group
[2] Maria Sharapova (Russia) d [6] Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland) 75 67(4) 62
[8] Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark) d [3] Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic) 62 63

Final Standings
1) Caroline Wozniacki 3-0
2) Agnieszka Radwanska 1-2 (.479 sets)
3) Maria Sharapova 1-2 (.464 sets)
4) Petra Kvitova 1-2 (.431 sets)

Doubles – Quarterfinals
Kveta Peschke (Czech Republic) / Katarina Srebotnik (Slovenia) d [1] Sara Errani (Italy) / R Vinci (Italy) 21 ret.

Saturday’s schedule:

Centre Court – 12:00 pm Start

[2] Hsieh Su-Wei (Chinese Taipei) & Peng Shuai  (CHN) vs. Alla Kudryavtseva (Russia) & Anastasia Rodionova (AUS)

Not before 2:30 pm

(1) Serena Wiliams vs. (8) Caroline Wozniacki

 

Not before 6:00 pm

(4) Simona Halep vs (6) Agnieszka Radwanska

[3] Cara Black (Zimbabwe)/Sania Mirza (India) vs. Kveta Peschke (Czech Republic)/Katarina Srebotnik (Slovenia)

 

Stephanie Neppl is in Singapore covering the WTA Finals for Tennis Panorama News. She spends all her spare funds traveling to tennis tournaments and has played since her teen years. Follow her live updates on Twitter at @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal Twitter @stephintheus and her blog  http://ihaveatennisaddiction.blogspot.com.

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