September 2, 2015

Belinda Bencic Wins Rogers Cup in Toronto

Belinda Bencic photo courtesy of the LTA by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images for LTA

By Brodie Widdifield

(August 16, 2015) TORONTO, Canada – Nothing about Sunday’s final between Simona Halep and Belinda Bencic was ordinary.

 

While everyone would have reasonably expected to see the second seeded Romanian Halep in the final, no one saw the fairy tale run of 18 year old Belinda Bencic coming. The young Swiss eliminated a whos who of top WTA players – Bouchard, Wozniacki, Lisicki, Ivanovic and finally Serena Williams Saturday night.

 

The dramatic turns of the match itself were befitting to what has been a dramatic week of tennis in Canada overall. With the sun beating down, the players traded five consecutive breaks to kick things off. Both players were changing directions often, creating many long, intriguing rallies from the baseline.

 

And then, the crowd. While there has been a large contingent of vocal Romanians in the crowd all week, they were the most vocal for the final. At one point, chair umpire Marija Cicak even said the Romanian word for thank you, “mulțumesc”, in order to try and quiet the crowd, which was met with an eruption from the crowd’s Romanian fans.

 

For all their cheering, Bencic was unfazed as she squeaked out the opening set in a tiebreak, 7-6(5), in well over an hour. “It’s amazing that the atmosphere is so great even if it’s against me. The people are very excited, and really, I feel like it’s the right thing. I think some people in some other tournaments should take an example from here.”

 

And then the match turned again.

 

Halep began receiving treatment for her left thigh, which seemed to be impeding her movement. Later in the set she had blood pressure taken, was wrapped in ice and drinking liquids in an attempt to keep her energy up. “We both were fighting so hard,” said Bencic. “We had long rallies, so it was obvious that we were very exhausted, both.” Amazingly, she took the second set in a tiebreak, barely reacting and simply hanging her head as she walked slowly back to her chair.

 

In the end, Halep was spent and decided to end the match, giving the title to Belinda Bencic 7-6(5), 6-7(4), 3-0 ret. “I was thinking that I need a miracle to finish the match, but at 3-0 I said it is no sense to continue, and I stopped.”

 

“I had great victories,” said Halep. “So I take only the positives. I’m thinking to play Cincinnati, then I am entered on the New Haven tournament. And then US Open. So I don’t change anything right now. So I will see next days.”

 

This is the second title of Bencic’s season, and without a doubt the biggest week of the 18-year-old’s career. “I just feel like I improved myself, also in the game, but also in how I understand the game and know the opponents well and try to think on teh court and what I need to do. And I’ve also grown as a player. I think my service improved a little bit. And I feel like I still have potential to go better, to play better and to serve better and just everything.”

 

“Obviously it’s very big boost for your confidence. Now I actually feel like I belong here, and that I can be really one of the top players. It’s an amazing feeling.”

 

Brodie Widdifield is the author of the tennis web site mindtheracket.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @MindTheRacket. He was covering the Rogers Cup in Toronto for Tennis Panorama News.

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Serena Williams Beaten by Swiss Teen Belinda Bencic in Toronto Semis

 

By Brodie Widdifield

(August 15, 2015) TORONTO, Canada – It started quietly, but it ended in fireworks.

 

Belinda Bencic has been a name of the lips of many WTA fans this year. It started with a coaching partnership with fellow Swiss Martina Hingis, and her impressive win over Agnieszka Radwanska at Eastbourne gave her a first WTA title. She kicked off her hard court swing in Toronto with a series of impressive wins over Eugenie Bouchard, Caroline Wozniacki, Sabine Lisicki and Ana Ivanovic.

 

But no one saw this coming.

 

Bencic took on world No. 1 Serena Williams Saturday night and it quickly looked like match might not be anything more than an exhibition of the American’s ability to change angles and attack. Williams raced out to a 5-1 lead in just 33 minutes, taking the set 6-3.

 

The young Swiss player did manage to construct some better points at the end of the set, and she managed to get a foot hold in the match. The players traded serves, but Serena’s serving quickly began to deteriorate, eventually ending with her being broken in the middle of the set and taking her frustration out violently on her racquet. “I think I played really crappy today. And I don’t think you would disagree,” said Williams. “I was just really struggling with my serve today and everything wasn’t right with it.”

 

Belinda failed to close out the second set at first, but eventually broke at 5-6 as the lights got brighter and the noise from the crowd grew louder. “Obviously she wasn’t serving as great as she normally does,” said the Swiss. “But I think I tried to read her serve also I read it better in the end, and I was returning sometimes very good on the big points.”

 

The struggles continued for Serena into the third set and Belinda raced to a 4-0 lead. Williams fought back to get things on serve. “I was very nervous in that moment, but I told myself today is my chance and I really have to stay focused and be mentally tough, even if I didn’t do it on the first try.” But the Swiss completed the upset, breaking at 4-5 and taking the match 3-6, 7-5, 6-4.

 

“In the end it was just so loud, and I didn’t think anything.”

 

The win was undoubtedly the biggest of her young career. “I can’t describe the feeling right now. I was very overwhelmed from the situation on the court, but I’m just so happy the forehand landed in and she couldn’t reach it anymore. It was an incredible feeling. I have no words.”

This was just the second loss on the year for the 33-year-old Serena Williams.

 

The 18-year-old Bencic will take on Romanian Simona Halep in Sunday’s final. Halep defeated Sara Errani 6-4, 6-4 earlier in the day. “She’s an amazing player. She’s so consistent all of the year and definitely going to be a hard match, but I think today I have to enjoy this victory and tomorrow I will look what I can do against her.”

 

Brodie Widdifield is the author of the tennis web site mindtheracket.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @MindTheRacket. He is covering the Rogers Cup in Toronto for Tennis Panorama News, follow @TennisNewsTPN for updates.

 

TORONTO RESULTS, SATURDAY AUGUST 15, 2015

Singles – Semifinals
B. Bencic (SUI) d [1] S. Williams (USA) 36 75 64
[2] [WC] S. Halep (ROU) d [15] S. Errani (ITA) 64 64

Doubles- Semifinals
[4] C. Garcia (FRA) / K. Srebotnik (SLO) d [1] M. Hingis (SUI) / S. Mirza (IND) 63 62
[3] B. Mattek-Sands (USA) / L. Safarova (CZE) d K. Mladenovic (FRA) / K. Pliskova (CZE) 64 76(5)

MONTREAL RESULTS, SATURDAY AUGUST 15, 2015

Singles – Semifinals / Demi-finales
[1] N. Djokovic (SRB) d J. Chardy (FRA) 64 64
[2] A. Murray (GBR) d [4] K. Nishikori (JPN) 63 60

Doubles- Semifinals / Demi-finales
[1] B. Bryan (USA) / M. Bryan (USA) d [6] A. Peya (AUT) / B. Soares (BRA) 67(7) 64 10-7
D. Nestor (CAN) / E. Roger-Vasselin (FRA) d [PR] N. Djokovic (SRB) / J. Tipsarevic (SRB) 36 61 10-4

TORONTO ORDER OF PLAY – SUNDAY, AUGUST 16, 2015

CENTRE COURT start 1:00
B. Bencic (SUI) vs [2] [WC] S. Halep (ROU)
[4] C. Garcia (FRA) / K. Srebotnik (SLO) vs [3] B. Mattek-Sands (USA) / L. Safarova (CZE)

MONTREAL ORDER OF PLAY – SUNDAY AUGUST 16, 2015

COURT CENTRAL start 12:30 pm
[1] B. Bryan (USA) / M. Bryan (USA) vs D. Nestor (CAN) / E. Roger-Vasselin (FRA)

Not Before 3:00 pm
[1] N. Djokovic (SRB) vs [2] A. Murray (GBR)

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Tennis – Western & Southern Open Results and Schedule

cincinnati-tennis-open-logo
RESULTS – Saturday, August 15
ATP Qualifying – First Round
[1] Benoit Paire (France) d. Marco Cecchinato (Italy) 61 61
[2] Steve Johnson (USA) d. James Duckworth (Australia) 75 64
[3] Vasek Pospisil (Canada) d. Tatsuma Ito (Japan) 63 62
Mikhail Youzhny (Russia) def. [4] Mikhail Kukushkin (Kazakhstan) 06 64 75
[6] Santiago Giraldo (Colombia) d. Tim Smyzek (USA) 64 64
Alexander Zverev (Germany) d. [7] Benjamin Becker (Germany) 64 62
[8] Nicolas Mahut (France) d. [WC] Frances Tiafoe (USA) 63 62
[9] Alexandr Dolgopolov (Ukraine) d. James Ward (Great Britain) 64 64
[10] Dennis Istomin (Uzbekistan) d. [Alt] Blaz Rola (Slovakia) 16 76(7) 64
[11] Hyeon Chung (Korea) d. Ivan Dodig (Croatia) 36 64 61
[12] Thanasi Kokkinakis (Australia) d. Ryan Harrison (USA) 75 36 76(2)
[13] Denis Kudla (USA) d. [WC] Tommy Paul (USA) 62 06 60
[14] Yen-Hsun Lu (Taipei) d. Stefan Kozlov (USA) 64 63
[15] Marsel Ilhan (Turkey) d. Nikoloz Basilashvili (Georgia) 46 64 76(2)
WTA Qualifying – First Round
Aliaksandra Sasnovich (Belarus) d. [1] Monica Niculescu (Romania) 36 76(7) 76
[2] Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (Slovakia) d. Taylor Townsend (USA) 16 60 62
Ana Konjuh (Croatia) d. [3] Johanna Larsson (Sweden) 60 76(2)
Sesil Karatantcheva (Bulgaria) d. [4] Magdalena Rybarikova (Slovakia) 57 64 63
Jana Cepelova (Romania) d. [5] Alexandra Dulgheru (Slovakia) 67(5) 61 63
[6] Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (Croatia) d. Su-Wei Hsieh (Taipei) 76(7) 63
[7] Yulia Putintseva (Russia) d. [WC] Louisa Chirico (USA) 60 64
[WC] Nicole Gibbs (USA) d. [8] Andreas Beck (Germany) 62 64
Mariana Duque-Marino (Colombia) d. [9] Carina Witthoeft (Germany) 64 64
[10] Lucie Hradecka (Czech Republic) d. Monica Puig (Puerto Rico) 64 64
[11] Christina McHale (USA) d. Kristyna Pliskova (Czech Republic) 67(5) 64 61
[12] Mona Barthel (Germany) d. Elena Vesnina (Russia) 61 62
[13] Julia Georges (Germany) d. Urszula Radwanska (Poland) 64 46 75
[14] Casey Dellacqua (Australia) d. [WC] Alexa Glatch (USA) 76(4) 62
Misaki Doi (Japan) d. [15] Aleksandra Krunic (Serbia) 62 60
[16] Tatjana Maria (Germany) d. Evgeniya Rodina (Russia) 64 62
Timea Babos (Hungary) d. [17] Heather Watson (Great Britain) 62 16 63
[18] Polona Hercog (Slovenia) d. Tamira Paszek (Austria) 63 63
Kateryna Bondarenko (Ukraine) d. [19] Lara Arruabarrena (Spain) 61 64
[20] Kurumi Nara (Japan) d. Marina Erakovic (New Zealand) 64 63
Lauren Davis (USA) d. [21] Andreea Mitu (Romania) 57 62 63
[22] Irina Falconi (USA) d. [WC] Jennifer Brady (USA) 61 63
Yaroslava Shvedova (Russia) d. [23] Jarmila Gajdosova (Slovakia) 64 75
[24] Olga Govortsova (Belarus) d. [WC] Sachia Vickery (USA) 76(3) 76(0)


ORDER OF PLAY – Sunday, August 16
CENTER COURT – 10:00am start
WTA Qualifying – [12] Mona Barthel (Germany) vs [22] Irina Falconi (USA)
WTA Qualifying – [11] Christina Mchale (USA) vs [18] Polona Hercog (Slovakia)
Not Before 2:00pm:00 pm
ATP – Dominic Thiem (Austria) vs Martin Klizan (Slovakia)
Not Before 7:00pmm
ATP – [16] Grigor Dimitrov (Bulgaria) vs L. Rosol (Czech Republic)
ATP – P. Cuevas (Ukraine) / D. Marrero (Spain) vs F. Lopez (Spain) / M. Mirnyi (Belarus)
GRANDSTAND – 11:30am start 11:30 am
ATP Qualifying – [1] Benoit Paire (France) vs [13] Denis Kudla (USA)
Not Before 1:00pm
WTA Qualifying – Aliaksandra Sasnovich (Belarus) vs Timea Babos (Hungary)
ATP – Qualifying – [2] Steve Johnson (USA) vs [8] Nicolas Mahut (France)
STADIUM 3 – 10:00am start 10:00 am
WTA – Qualifying – [6] Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (Croatia) vs [14] Casey Dellacqua (Australia)
ATP – Qualifying – Alexander Zverev (Germany) vs [10] Dennis Istomin (Uzbekistan)
WTA – Qualifying – Sesil Karatantcheva (Bulgaria) vs [13] Julia Goerges (Germany)
ATP – Qualifying – [15] Marsel Ilhan (Turkey) vs [12] Thanasi Kokkinakis (Australia)
COURT 9 – 10:00am start 10:00 am
ATP – Qualifying – [6] Santiago Giraldo (Colombia) vs [9] Alexandr Dolgopolov (Ukraine)
WTA – Qualifying – [2] Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (Slovakia) vs [24] Olga Govortsova (Belarus)
ATP – Qualifying – Mikail Youzhny (Russia) vs [14] Yen-Hsun Lu (Taipei)
WTA – Qualifying – [WC] Nicole Gibbs (USA) vs Lauren Davis (USA)
COURT 4 – 10:00am start 10:00 am
WTA – Qualifying – [10] Lucie Hradecka (Czech Republic) vs [16] Tatjana Maria (Germany)
WTA – Qualifying – Ana Konjuh (Croatia) vs Misaki Doi (Japan)
ATP – Qualifying – [3] Vasek Pospisil (Canada) vs [11] Hyeon Chung (Korea)
WTA – Qualifying – Mariana Duque-Mariño (Colombia) vs Yaroslava Shvedova (Kazakhstan)
COURT 6 – 11:30am start 11:30 am
WTA – Qualifying – [25] Yulia Putintseva (Kazakhstan) vs [20] Kurumi Nara (Japan)
WTA – Qualifying – Jana Cepelova (Slovakia) vs Kateryna Bondarenko (Ukraine)
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In Topsy-Turvy Match, Simona Halep Bounces Back to Reach Toronto Semis

221 Dubai Halep celebration3 -001

By Brodie Widdifield

(August 14, 2015) TORONTO, Canada – When trying to determine what we should expect from a match we often look to the players’ past matches against each other and how their styles of play compare and contrast. No one would have predicted the topsy-turvy, entertaining affair that took place Friday afternoon in Toronto at the Rogers Cup.

 

Simona Halep and Agnieszka Radwanska played each other three times in 2014. All three were straight set matches on hard courts, with Halep taking two of three. With the Romanian battling through a grueling three set match with Angelique Kerber on Thursday, it looked like she may fail to even win a game.

 

“It was difficult, because I was a bit tired when I started the match, and I didn’t have time to warm up very well before because it was raining, and the schedule was a little bit complicated,” said Halep. The world No. 3 won just 13 of 40 points in the first set, and Radwanska rolled to a 6-0 lead.

 

Halep managed to finally get a service hold and slowly the match began to change. The Romanian took some pace off of her shots which slowed the rallies and allowed her to play with more angles and spin in the slow, grey conditions of Toronto. “After that set I said that I have to change something. I was hitting the balls very strong, and it was not a good idea playing against Radwanska because she knows how to make you run during the point. I just tried during the point to make her run, like with short cross. I think I did a good change, and that’s maybe why I won.”

 

The second set quickly started to look like Halep’s match against Kerber as the length of rallies increased, including some thrilling ones that ended at the net. A particularly crazy game at 3-3 proved to be the turning point, as after Halep won it, the match was essentially over. She won eight of the following nine games and rolled to a 0-6, 6-3, 6-1 victory to make her first semifinal in Canada.

 

“I think played my best tennis since Miami. I come from bad results in the French Open and Wimbledon, but players always have ups and downs and I just wanted to stay focused to still believe in myself that I can do some results this year.”

 

The Romanian continued to thank her wild Romanian fans both on the court and in press after the match. “Today when I was down 0-5, they were supporting me like I was up 5-0. It was amazing, and they gave me power just to stay there, still fighting for the victory.”

 

Halep will face Sara Errani in the semifinals, who defeated qualifier Lesia Tsurenko 6-4, 6-4 later in the day. Halep will also attempt to become the second straight Romanian to make the final of the WTA version of the Toronto event after Sorana Cirstea made it all the way to Sunday in 2013. Halep leads the head to head, 2-1, and won their only meeting this year in Stuttgart, 6-4, 6-4.

 

Brodie Widdifield is the author of the tennis web site mindtheracket.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @MindTheRacket. He is covering the Rogers Cup in Toronto for Tennis Panorama News, follow @TennisNewsTPN for updates.

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Simona Halep Safely into the Final 16 in Toronto While Five Seeds Fall

Halep 2182015-001

By Brodie Widdifield

 

(August 12, 2015) TORONTO, Canada – While much of the mainstream media’s attention has been on the baffling struggles of Eugenie Bouchard, Simona Halep has quietly had a disappointing 2015. After falling in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, she went on to win Indian Wells – the biggest title of her career. Beyond that, it was disappointment as she fell in the second and first rounds of Roland Garros and Wimbledon, tournaments she had made the final and semifinals of just a year prior.

 

The 23-year- old Romanian admitted to being tired after Indian Wells and Miami. “At the beginning of the year I played some good tennis, but after I lost at two grand slams were last year I played good tennis. But maybe I couldn’t handle the pressure, and maybe I was a little bit tired. My life has changed a lot. Obviously everyone in my country is recognizing me and it’s a little bit tough. I have to accept and go forward.”

 

After a post Wimbledon break with her family, Halep decided to play Toronto, and the fans in Canada could not have been happier about her decision. Romanian fans came out in droves to support Sorana Cirstea during her unlikely run to the final in 2013 in Toronto, and they were chanting Simona‘s name after just the first game.

 

“I’m really happy that I have such a big support. Romanians are everywhere, so I really want to thank them for supporting me. It’s really nice to see our flag everywhere. Many Romanian words in the crowd. So that makes me happy on the court and makes me more, you know, more stronger that I have big support, and I can say that I fight easier.”

 

The support certainly did not hurt. Halep came out of the gate strong against Jelena Jankovic Wednesday afternoon. Changing directions early in the rally and keeping the ball deep, she was consistently on top in rallies. “I tried just to be aggressive, to take the ball as soon as possible, because I know that she has good defense. I tried to keep my first serve in because she’s returning well. I tried to play her forehand more, because I know she has a strong backhand. I didn’t want to rush myself, just go into the court and just to take the ball fast and to open the court.”

 

Continuing to move well and keeping errors low, the good form continued into the second set and Halep went on to take the second round match 6-3, 6-4. “I can say that I had stress free because I did not have expectations for this match because I had a long break. But I did pretty well today and I’m really happy I could win in two sets.” The win could set up some of the best matches of the tournament, as Halep will face Angelique Kerber on Thursday and potentially Agnieszka Radwanska in the quarterfinals.

 

Brodie Widdifield is the author of the tennis web site mindtheracket.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @MindTheRacket. He is covering the Rogers Cup in Toronto for Tennis Panorama News, follow @TennisNewsTPN for updates.

ROGERS CUP PRESENTED BY NATIONAL BANK – TORONTO, CANADA
$ 2,513,000.00
10- 16 AUGUST 2015

RESULTS – AUGUST 12, 2015
Women’s
Singles – Second Round

[2] [WC] S. Halep (ROU) d J. Jankovic (SRB) 63 64
V. Azarenka (BLR) d [3] P. Kvitova (CZE) 62 63
B. Bencic (SUI) d [4] C. Wozniacki (DEN) 75 75
[5] A. Ivanovic (SRB) d [Q] O. Govortsova (BLR) 64 76(4)
[6] A. Radwanska (POL) d [LL] J. Goerges (GER) 75 63
D. Gavrilova (RUS) d [7] L. Safarova (CZE) 46 75 75
[Q] L. Tsurenko (UKR) d [8] G. Muguruza (ESP) 75 61
[Q] P. Hercog (SLO) d [11] E. Makarova (RUS) 62 67(2) 75
[13] A. Kerber (GER) d [Q] M. Puig (PUR) 62 63
[15] S. Errani (ITA) d M. Brengle (USA) 63 26 63
[16] A. Petkovic (GER) d [Q] H. Watson (GBR) 64 63
R. Vinci (ITA) d [Q] M. Lucic-Baroni (CRO) 63 63
S. Lisicki (GER) d B. Strycova (CZE) 76(3) 64
[Q] C. Witthoeft (GER) d A. Riske (USA) 64 57 63
A. Cornet (FRA) d D. Cibulkova (SVK) 63 62

Women’s
Doubles – Second Round

[3] B. Mattek-Sands (USA) / L. Safarova (CZE) d D. Jurak (CRO) / R. Kops-Jones (USA) 62 62
I. Begu (ROU) / I. Olaru (ROU) d [8] G. Muguruza (ESP) / C. Suárez Navarro (ESP) 76(5) 06 10-4
First Round
[6] S. Errani (ITA) / F. Pennetta (ITA) d [Alt] M. Barthel (GER) / M. Minella (LUX) 61 63
H. Chan (TPE) / Y. Chan (TPE) d [7] A. Hlavackova (CZE) / L. Hradecka (CZE) 64 36 10-8
A. Medina Garrigues (ESP) / A. Parra Santonja (ESP) d C. Chuang (TPE) / C. Liang (CHN) 36 61 10-8
[WC] F. Abanda (CAN) / H. El Tabakh (CAN) d G. Dabrowski (CAN) / A. Rosolska (POL) 75 75
[WC] B. Bencic (SUI) / D. Cibulkova (SVK) d L. Arruabarrena (ESP) / A. Klepac (SLO) 61 76(5)
[WC] S. Fichman (CAN) / C. Zhao (CAN) d C. Chan (TPE) / P. Kania (POL) 16 64 10-5

ORDER OF PLAY – THURSDAY, AUGUST 13, 2015
CENTRE COURT start 11:00 am
R. Vinci (ITA) vs D. Gavrilova (RUS)

Not Before 1:00 pm
[13] A. Kerber (GER) vs [2] [WC] S. Halep (ROU)
[15] S. Errani (ITA) vs V. Azarenka (BLR)

Not Before 7:00 pm
[1] S. Williams (USA) vs [16] A. Petkovic (GER)
[Q] P. Hercog (SLO) vs [5] A. Ivanovic (SRB)

GRANDSTAND start 11:00 am
[Q] L. Tsurenko (UKR) vs [Q] C. Witthoeft (GER)
B. Bencic (SUI) vs S. Lisicki (GER)
[6] A. Radwanska (POL) vs A. Cornet (FRA)

Not Before 6:00 pm
K. Mladenovic (FRA) / K. Pliskova (CZE) vs M. Krajicek (NED) / B. Strycova (CZE)
A. Medina Garrigues (ESP) / A. Parra Santonja (ESP) vs H. Chan (TPE) / Y. Chan (TPE)

COURT 1 start 12:00 noon
[WC] S. Fichman (CAN) / C. Zhao (CAN) vs [2] E. Makarova (RUS) / E. Vesnina (RUS)

Not Before 1:00 pm
[4] C. Garcia (FRA) / K. Srebotnik (SLO) vs [WC] F. Abanda (CAN) / H. El Tabakh (CAN)
[1] M. Hingis (SUI) / S. Mirza (IND) vs J. Goerges (GER) / K. Jans-Ignacik (POL)

Not Before 3:00 pm
After Suitable Rest – [6] S. Errani (ITA) / F. Pennetta (ITA) vs [WC] B. Bencic (SUI) / D. Cibulkova (SVK)

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Eugenie Bouchard Continues Slump with Opening Round Loss to Belinda Bencic in Toronto

Belinda Bencic

Belinda Bencic

By Brodie Widdifield

(August, 11, 2015) TORONTO, Canada – Another tournament and another early round loss for Eugenie Bouchard. Despite showing flashes of her spectacular 2014 form, she failed to escape her first match in a Canadian tournament once again and fell to an impressive 18-year-old Belinda Bencic 6-0, 5-7, 6-2 at the Rogers Cup.

 

The first set may have been one of the worst of the young Canadian’s career. She looked nervous and lost for ideas as she hit 15 unforced errors to her opponent’s zero and failed to impose herself on the match. She looked a step slow and her backhand looked particularly volatile.

 

Bouchard fought back in the second, however, and showed shades of the form that brought her so much success in 2014. “I didn’t freak out, I just thought to myself that I was just shaking off the rust a little bit, and I really didn’t panic.” She began hitting her backhand down the line and pushing the ball into space which led to some long, thrilling rallies. The Canadian crowd came alive, and Bouchard saved a match point en route to winning the set, 7-5.

 

Unfortunately, it was all for naught as Belinda Bencic raised her game, cut out some of the errors that plauged her in the second set and went on to take the match 6-0, 5-7, 6-2, all despite a crowd wildly cheering for her opponent. Bouchard has now lost 13 of her last 15 matches.

 

In some ways, it was the perfect representation of two young players whose careers have been heading in opposite directions this season. However, Bouchard was upbeat after the match, and saw the flashes of good play in the second set as a sign of an upward turn. “I’m pleased with my performance. It’s for sure a step in the right direction. I played the whole match pain free, that was one of the goals, the most important one, maybe. I’m going to go into the next few weeks with some goals, and just try and build on this match today.”

 

She will head to Cincinnati and then New Haven in search of more match play and more importantly, wins. Whether or not she will search for a new coach remains unsure, after splitting with Sam Sumyk after the end of Wimbledon. “It definitely wasn’t working. There were some big problems, and I just felt like I had to make a change.”

 

For Bencic, it is another fantastic win in a year that was highlighted by a title run in Eastbourne. “The crowd was on her side, but I enjoyed the atmosphere – to play on such a big court was also fun for me. I really like it here.”

 

The young Swiss player will take on Caroline Wozniacki – a player she beat on her way to that very title in Eastbourne this year – and knows what to expect. “Obviously she brings really a lot of balls back, and she doesn’t miss a lot. I know how to play against her. I’m ready for tomorrow, I hope.”

 

Brodie Widdifield is the author of the tennis web site mindtheracket.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @MindTheRacket. He is covering the Rogers Cup in Toronto for Tennis Panorama News, follow @TennisNewsTPN for updates.

 

ROGERS CUP PRESENTED BY NATIONAL BANK – TORONTO, CANADA
$ 2,513,000.00
10- 16 AUGUST 2015

RESULTS – AUGUST 11, 2015
Women’s
Singles – Second Round

[1] S. Williams (USA) d F. Pennetta (ITA) 26 63 60
First Round
A. Cornet (FRA) d [9] C. Suárez Navarro (ESP) 63 67(2) 64
[Q] M. Lucic-Baroni (CRO) d [10] K. Pliskova (CZE) 36 76(5) 62
[11] E. Makarova (RUS) d [Q] A. Tatishvili (USA) 63 63
A. Riske (USA) d [12] T. Bacsinszky (SUI) 36 76(4) 76(3)
[13] A. Kerber (GER) d [Q] M. Doi (JPN) 60 61
[15] S. Errani (ITA) d K. Mladenovic (FRA) 57 61 60
[16] A. Petkovic (GER) d [WC] F. Abanda (CAN) 36 64 62
[Q] H. Watson (GBR) d [Q] I. Falconi (USA) 61 62
R. Vinci (ITA) d K. Knapp (ITA) 60 60
D. Gavrilova (RUS) d S. Stosur (AUS) 64 64
B. Bencic (SUI) d E. Bouchard (CAN) 60 57 62
B. Strycova (CZE) d V. Lepchenko (USA) 62 64
[Q] P. Hercog (SLO) d A. Van Uytvanck (BEL) 64 16 63
[Q] O. Govortsova (BLR) d I. Begu (ROU) 63 76(4)
[Q] L. Tsurenko (UKR) d [Q] Y. Wickmayer (BEL) 63 76(3)
[Q] C. Witthoeft (GER) d C. Vandeweghe (USA) 63 36 61
M. Brengle (USA) d [WC] C. Zhao (CAN) 61 61
V. Azarenka (BLR) d E. Svitolina (UKR) 61 64
[LL] J. Goerges (GER) d Z. Diyas (KAZ) 26 61 75
D. Cibulkova (SVK) d S. Stephens (USA) 63 64
[Q] M. Puig (PUR) d [Q] M. Duque-Mariño (COL) 64 46 75
J. Jankovic (SRB) d C. Garcia (FRA) 76(4) 62

Women’s
Doubles – First Round

K. Mladenovic (FRA) / K. Pliskova (CZE) d [5] C. Dellacqua (AUS) / Y. Shvedova (KAZ) 67(5) 64 15-13
[8] G. Muguruza (ESP) / C. Suárez Navarro (ESP) d J. Jankovic (SRB) / R. Vinci (ITA) 76(5) 60
J. Goerges (GER) / K. Jans-Ignacik (POL) d L. Kichenok (UKR) / O. Savchuk (UKR) 75 63
D. Jurak (CRO) / R. Kops-Jones (USA) d [WC] D. Gavrilova (RUS) / S. Halep (ROU) 62 63
M. Krajicek (NED) / B. Strycova (CZE) d A. Groenefeld (GER) / A. Tomljanovic (CRO) 64 64

ORDER OF PLAY – WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 12, 2015
CENTRE COURT start 11:00 am
D. Gavrilova (RUS) vs [7] L. Safarova (CZE)

Not Before 1:00 pm
J. Jankovic (SRB) vs [2] [WC] S. Halep (ROU)
[4] C. Wozniacki (DEN) vs B. Bencic (SUI)

Not Before 7:00 pm
V. Azarenka (BLR) vs [3] P. Kvitova (CZE)
[6] A. Radwanska (POL) vs [LL] J. Goerges (GER)

GRANDSTAND start 11:00 am
[8] G. Muguruza (ESP) vs [Q] L. Tsurenko (UKR)
[Q] O. Govortsova (BLR) vs [5] A. Ivanovic (SRB)
D. Cibulkova (SVK) vs A. Cornet (FRA)

Not Before 6:00 pm
[13] A. Kerber (GER) vs [Q] M. Puig (PUR)
G. Dabrowski (CAN) / A. Rosolska (POL) vs [WC] F. Abanda (CAN) / H. El Tabakh (CAN)

COURT 1 start 11:00 am
[11] E. Makarova (RUS) vs [Q] P. Hercog (SLO)
B. Strycova (CZE) vs S. Lisicki (GER)
[Q] H. Watson (GBR) vs [16] A. Petkovic (GER)
C. Chan (TPE) / P. Kania (POL) vs [WC] S. Fichman (CAN) / C. Zhao (CAN)
After Suitable Rest – L. Arruabarrena (ESP) / A. Klepac (SLO) vs [WC] B. Bencic (SUI) / D. Cibulkova (SVK)

COURT 2 start 11:00 am
[15] S. Errani (ITA) vs M. Brengle (USA)
[Q] C. Witthoeft (GER) vs A. Riske (USA)
After Suitable Rest – [6] S. Errani (ITA) / F. Pennetta (ITA) vs [Alt] M. Barthel (GER) / M. Minella (LUX)
After Suitable Rest – D. Jurak (CRO) / R. Kops-Jones (USA) vs [3] B. Mattek-Sands (USA) / L. Safarova (CZE)

COURT 3 start 11:00 am
[Q] M. Lucic-Baroni (CRO) vs R. Vinci (ITA)
H. Chan (TPE) / Y. Chan (TPE) vs [7] A. Hlavackova (CZE) / L. Hradecka (CZE)
A. Medina Garrigues (ESP) / A. Parra Santonja (ESP) vs C. Chuang (TPE) / C. Liang (CHN)
After Suitable Rest – I. Begu (ROU) / I. Olaru (ROU) vs [8] G. Muguruza (ESP) / C. Suárez Navarro (ESP)

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“Getting Myself on Track,” Victoria Azarenka Advances in Toronto

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By Brodie Widdifield

(August 11, 2015) TORONTO, Canada – Life as a touring tennis professional is a lonely one, but the long recovery from a serious injury can be even tougher. Victoria Azarenka struggled with a foot injury in 2014 which caused a serious dip in results, and eventually forced her to cut her year short in September.

 

With so much time away from the sport, Azarenka was afforded some time to think about herself in a way she might not be able to during the regularly busy tour. “Just getting myself on track, taking responsibilities for your actions, learning from your mistakes, getting organized, which I hate, and now I’m really good at it.” She stressed the importance of improving her relationships with others, even including the media. “Having probably the best relationship with my parents that I ever had. So that was something that I worked really hard on, and it’s amazing to me.” “I feel like I improved a lot with you guys (the media) since wherever I started. So that’s definitely a good job,” quipped the Belurussian, laughing.

 

While Azarenka admitted to being a perfectionist, she has also admitted to herself that she needs to give herself a break sometimes. “That’s why I need to like sometimes give myself a little bit of a, I don’t know, pat on the back and say good job, because I don’t like to be too satisfied because then I get myself too comfortable and then I’m not motivated.”

 

The combination of poor results in 2014 and the time off due to injury left Azarenka with a much lower ranking than she is used to. She has welcomed the challenge of boosting her ranking back up, and is not looking back to times when things were a bit easier. “I grew as a player. I have a lot more variety, a lot more power, a lot more consistency and better game overall. So for me, I don’t look in getting back there, because that was something I wanted to build from.”

 

“I have to slowly and steadily be coming my way up and I’ve been playing really good. I just lost a few times to a number one player, and I think a top ten player. I’m not developing my game. I’m just improving details. For me it’s just going after it and working really hard and giving myself the best opportunity to take out the best quality.”

 

When asked whether or not the tour felt new again after such an extended break, Azarenka could not help but poke fun at herself. “I just turned 26, and I can’t believe that, actually. Everybody says, hey, you are still a baby, and to me it feels like it’s been forever I’ve been playing on tour.”

 

Azarenka defeated Elina Svitolina 6-1, 6-4 and will face Petra Kvitova Wednesday in the second round of the Rogers Cup in Toronto.

 

Brodie Widdifield is the author of the tennis web site mindtheracket.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @MindTheRacket. He is covering the Rogers Cup in Toronto for Tennis Panorama News, follow @TennisNewsTPN for updates.

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WTA All-Access at 2015 Rogers Cup

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By Brodie Widdifield

(August 10, 2015) TORONTO, Canada – The beginning of August always represents one of the most exciting times of the year for Canadian tennis fans with the Rogers Cup tournament getting underway. For players on the WTA, it represents the beginning of the North American hard court swing, and the end of a short but enjoyable post-Wimbledon holiday.

It’s definitely my favourite time of the season,” said Caroline Wozniacki. The Dane has dealt with a back injury this season and stressed the importance of fitness for this difficult yet important part of the season. “The most important thing is to stay healthy.”

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Petra Kvitova has been less lucky with her health, unfortunately. “I spent a few days off in Monaco as a vacation. I was trying to practice a little bit, but unfortunately I was diagnosed with mono.” The Czech emphasized that she was working with her team to properly schedule her practicing in order to conserve energy. “I probably got it during the spring time and I still have a little bit of it. I’m still going to play, but I need to worrying about the practicing, and I’ll try to be ready for the matches.”

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Ana Ivanovic also took some time off, and emphasized switching to hard courts would not be a challenge. “It’s not such a difficult change. A lot of players take time off, which was the case with me. The hardest transition is clay to grass, so I look forward to playing on the hard courts here in the United States and Canada.”

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Romanian Simona Halep was one of the stand out players of 2014, but has found success more difficult to come by in 2015. She seemed excited to get her hard court season under way in Toronto after deciding late to enter the tournament on a wild card. “I need some matches.” However, she enjoyed her time off after Wimbledon and is looking forward to getting back on court. “It was really good. I stayed calm, all four weeks, with my family, with my friends. Now I feel good, I feel confident, and I hope to have good matches here.” “I was a little bit tired after Indian Wells and Miami.”

 

The other hot topic on the lips of reporters and players was the continued success of the world’s best player, Serena Williams. With the season’s first three grand slams in her pocket, she will look to complete what was originally known as “The Grand Slam” – winning all four majors in a calendar year.

Not even Serena Williams herself could say it would be business as usual in New York. “It definitely feels different. Winning the Serena Slam this year took some pressure off.” Even at age 33, the world number 1 has no intentions of slowing down as she enjoys one of the best years of her career. “I feel like every year that goes by I start to love the game more than I did the previous year.”

Other players were genuinely happy for the success of Williams this year. Ana Ivanovic even said she would like to see her win the US Open. “I really hope she can do it. She’s been working really hard, she’s been on top of the game so long so I think she deserves it. We’re so lucky to have someone like her in our sport, and I don’t think she gets enough credit for what she has achieved.”

Simona Halep shared her views. “For me she is the best player in the world. She has a lot of power, and also mental power. I think she can do all four, and win the US Open this year.” But when asked if it was frustrating to constantly have such a dominant player, the Romanian only laughed. “For me it is not. It’s really nice to have a player [like her]. She’s very competitive and she loves to be number one.”

Finally, Garbine Muguruza was perhaps one of the most engaging interviews on the afternoon. Now in the top 8, the Spaniard invites all the attention that comes along with reaching a grand slam final at just 21. “Obviously things are changing, media, people are looking more at what I’m doing, but I’m enjoying it. You have to be ready, you have to be more mature. The good moments go so quickly, and the bad ones are so slow.” She mentioned that she learned a lot from the Wimbledon final, but laughed when asked if she had watched any of the match again. “I just watched the two minute highlights. No more than that.”

Brodie Widdifield is the author of the tennis web site mindtheracket.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @MindTheRacket. He is covering the Rogers Cup in Toronto for Tennis Panorama News, follow @TennisNewsTPN for updates.

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Kerber Straight A’s in Finals, Wins Bank of the West Classic

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By Curt Janka

(August 9, 2015) STANFORD, California – There are no easy finals in Stanford and this one was no exception. Angelique Kerber was pushed hard to beat Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 5-7, 6-4. Kerber is now a perfect 4-0 in championship matches this year.

 

There were patches of both sloppy and brilliant play from the players. The first set went back and forth as Kerber won the opening two games, dropped the next three, then closed the set on a 4 game streak. In the hot, breezy conditions, Pliskova struggled to keep her attacking shots inside the court. She got her first break in a game where she mostly hit her returns deep and at Kerber’s feet. But Kerber adjusted and forced Pliskova to go for more corners instead.

 

Pliskova, whose biggest weapon all week had been her serve, struggled to hold.

“It was definitely off, my serve,” she said. “I didn’t feel it at all. Not the first serve, not even the second serve. That’s probably for me the worst thing. It wasn’t working. I think that’s why I lost today.”

 

Holding was difficult for both players as the second set featured nine breaks of serve and only three holds. Kerber started to mix a few more drop shots into her shots and while Pliskova was able to get to them, she may have hurt her ankle to do so. She called for the trainer just before serving at 6-5 to have her ankle wrapped.

 

Asked about the injury she said, “Yes, I did some bad step with the right ankle. And then it was getting a little bit worse because I was running quite a lot today. It was much better after [it was wrapped].”

 

Pliskova gave credit to Kerber’s defensive abilities. “It was maybe harder than in the last matches for me because you always have to play one more ball than with the normal girls. So that’s why I made maybe more mistakes and that’s why also I was pushing the serve a little bit too much.”

 

Kerber has worked hard on her fitness, but she believes her commitment to being more aggressive is paying off. “I’m happy that I was going for it and not just pushing the ball back and hoping for the mistakes. I think that was the key in the end for me.

 

Kerber may be undefeated in finals this year, but that was not the case in 2014. When asked what’s different this year she smiled and said, “It’s coming back. Last year I was like 0-4 and now it’s 4-0. I think right now I have a lot of experience from last year, from all my finals. I’m just trying to go out there and enjoy the final. Every time I reach the final I know, okay I’ve had a great week already, just go out there, try your best and just take it.”

Curt Janka and David Sweet  were covering the Bank of the West Classic.

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Kei Nishikori and Sloane Stephens Take Citi Open Singles Titles

Sloane Stephens close upKei Nishikori

(August 9, 2015) On Sunday, 2014 U.S. Open finalist, second seed Kei Nishikori rallied to stop hard-serving John Isner 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 to claim his first Citi Open title. Sloane Stephens captured the women’s title in Washington, DC with a 6-1, 6-2 dismissal of Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova match between unseeded players.

For the 25-year-old Japanese player, this was his 10th career title, while for the American, it was her first trophy on the WTA Tour.

“I didn’t make enough inroads on his first serve,” said three-time Washington finalist Isner of his battle against Nishikori. “If you put a decent amount of first serves in the court, he’s arguably the best in the best in the world from the baseline. It’s tough. I thought he served better in the second and third sets. He’s a great player and a great champion.”

“I’m very happy to win after losing the first set,” said Nishikori. “I came back really well so I’m very happy to win today.

“I fought through (after losing the first set for the third time this week). In the first match I was down 7-6 and came back. It’s not easy but mentally I tried to fight every time and I’m happy to win in the final today.”

Nishikori who is 43-9 on the year will move up to No. 4 in the world with the victory, matching his career high.

“I’ll try to keep going,” Nishikori said. “I’ve been playing well.”

Nishikori will move up from No. 5 to No. 4 in Monday’s rankings, equaling his career best.

In the men’s doubles final, Americans Bob and Mike Bryan won their fourth Citi Open title beating Ivan Dodig of Croatia and Marcelo Melo of Brazil 6-4, 6-2 for their 108th career doubles title.

“I think this tournament is really valuable for our confidence, our momentum going into this hard-court summer,” Bob Bryan said. It was nice to get some revenge on a couple of teams we lost to over in Europe. That will help us going into these next three big tournaments and crescendos at the US Open in New York.”

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The 22-year-old Stephens, jumped off to a 3-0 lead winning 15 of the first 21 points and never had to look back. This was the first final for the American.

“I just went out there and tried to play the best I could,” Stephens said to media.

“I think I executed my game very well today – it was just a really good day for me.”

“Nothing was given to me. I had to work for everything. It was just nice that all of the hard work and everything I’ve put into it – now I can say that I have a tournament title,”

“It’s great to win this first title – I haven’t even thought about my next goal yet.”

“Last year I was going through a learning process. I learned a lot about myself. And there’s still a lot of room to grow. Sometimes you have to go through the process. To get to this place, to get to this beautiful trophy, I had to go through a lot, but at the end of the day it was definitely worth it.”

Stephens, who was once ranked as high as No. 11 in the world, will move up from No. 35 into the top 30 when the rankings come out on Monday.

The doubles title went to the fourth seeds Belinda Bencic and Kristina Mladenovic over third seeds Lara Arruabarrena and Andreja Klepac, 7-5, 7-6(7).

 

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