June 22, 2017

Juan Martin Del Potro, Taylor Fritz and Zhang Shuai Awarded Wildcards into BNP Paripas Open


(February 18, 2016) – 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, American Taylor Fritz and Australian Open quarterfinalist Zhang Shuai were awarded wildcards into the main draw of the BNP Paribas Open to be held March 7-20, 2016 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.


Del Potro, the 2013 BNP Paribas Open runner-up, returned to action this week in Delray Beach after wrist surgeries kept him out for the majority of 2014 and 2015. The former World No. 4 will be making his sixth appearance in Indian Wells.


Southern California native Taylor Fritz, who received a wildcard into the qualifying draw at last year’s BNP Paribas Open, earns a main draw berth in 2016. The 18-year-old American won the US Open Junior Championship last fall and captured two Challenger titles. He has made great strides in the 2016 season including winning another Challenger event and advancing through qualifying at the Australian Open before falling in five sets to fellow countryman Jack Sock. This past week he reached the finals at Memphis as a wildcard, becoming the youngest American since Michael Chang in 1989 at the age of 17 to reach the final of an ATP World Tour event.


Zhang Shuai enters the main draw following a quarterfinal showing at the 2016 Australian Open, where she posted wins against four top 50 ranked opponents, including 2015 BNP Paribas Open Champion Simona Halep. Outside the top-120 in the WTA rankings to begin the year, Zhang currently sits at No. 67 in the world.


“We’re excited to add these three exceptional players to our already incredible fields,” said Moore. “We know our fans will welcome back Juan Martin after a two-year absence and we are thrilled to have a young American, Taylor Fritz, who has grown up in our own backyard, competing in front of a home crowd. In addition, from what Zhang Shuai showed us in Australia, she is a player for fans to keep an eye on during the tournament.”


In addition, there are three men’s and seven women’s main draw wildcards remaining, which will be granted in the coming weeks.


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

Kerber fistpump-001

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The women’s semifinals will be played on Thursday.

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

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

Murray has a 3-3 record against Raonic.



Qualifier Zhang’s Run Continues into Fourth Round of the Australian Open

(January 23, 2016) Before this fortnight, Chinese qualifier Zhang Shuai had no match wins in Grand Slam tournaments. She now has three. Zhang, who shocked No. 2 seed Simona Halep in the first round continued her run at the Australian Open, defeating American Varvara Lepchenko 6-1, 6-3 to reach the round of 16.

She hit 27 winners against the American and made 86 percent of her first serves.

Zhang, who thought about retirement when her ranking plummeted to 200 in the world, brought her parents to Melbourne, thinking that it might be her last tournament.

The world No. 133 now has wins over No. 2 Halep, No. 33 Alize Cornet and now No. 51 Lepchenko. She came into the Australian Open 0-14 in Grand Slam matches. She has not dropped a set yet.

Zhang will get a big challenge from her next opponent No. 15 seed Madison Keys who rallied past Ana Ivanovic 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.

“I can’t think too much,” said Zhang.

“I just only keep seeing the next point, because I’ve never been in the third round.”

Keys said via statement: “Zhang, we’re so happy for her now. She’s won not only one, but two main draw matches. That’s great for her. I haven’t played her since three, four years now. Obviously she’s playing well if she’s had the upsets that she’s had, so either match will be tough.”


Qualifier Zhang Shuai Topples Second Seed Simona Halep at Australian Open


Qualifier Zhang Shuai Topples Second Seed Simona Halep at Australian Open

(January 19, 2016) Another seed fell on the women’s side of the draw on Tuesday – second seed Simona Halep lost to Chinese qualifier Zhang Shuai 6-4, 6-3 in just over an hour. The 133rd ranked Zhang’s victory was her first main-draw win at any major tournament. She was 0-14 coming into Melbourne.

After the match a tearful Zhang was happy with the win ending her losing streak at Grand Slam events. “I think in my life, it’s the best tennis,” she said. “To win against a top-two player, I’m so happy, so excited.”

Zhang bested Halep with power hitting 31 winners past the Romanian.

“She had confidence,” Halep said. “She had three matches here already in the quallies. Yeah, she didn’t have fear. She hit all the balls. I think she played much better than Indian Wells few years ago, but I think I let her play her best tennis. I didn’t hit very strong and I didn’t hit with good strength.”

“I think wasn’t my good day, but I give her a lot of credit because I think she played really well. She played without fear and she hit every ball,” Halep said to media.

“So she had good rhythm. Yeah, I think I played a little bit too short in the first set. Then she was dominating me because she felt the ball really well.

“Then I tried to change. I tried to stay there. But, yeah, at 3-1 I had the chance to go three the set, the second set, but didn’t happen.

“So, yeah, she beat me. Yeah, she was better today. It’s tough. I’m really disappointed. But it’s only one day, only one match. Tomorrow, it’s a new day. I have to look forward and to stay motivated. I have many matches in forward.”

“I play really well today,” Zhang said. “Play against the great player. I feeling no more nervous, you know, because nothing to lose. So play like hundred percent good.”

Zhang’s parents traveled with her to Melbourne to watch her play, just a few months ago, she considered retiring and making the Australian Open her last tournament.

“Okay, retire, no problem, nobody said, No. But I’m feeling no, I want come back. I want try one more time, only one more time, yeah. If no good, I say, Okay, I will try last tournament Australia Open. If Australia Open not good, maybe finish tennis.

“But I never think I can win in the here, win the first round.”

“Before, my father never come to watch I play, she said. “This is first time he travel with me. And also my mom. So this is big-time for me. Because I think, Oh, maybe this is last time in Australia Open, so I wanted they coming to maybe see last match in Melbourne.

“I want they come to see the last 20 years what I’m do. This is my life already like 20 years. They never see. So I want they feeling what I’m do. So, yeah, this is so lucky my parents coming and I win.”

Halep has now lost in the first round at the Australian Open three times in the past five years.

Earlier in the day, eighth seed Venus Williams also lost in the first round.

Johanna Konta Upsets No. 8 Venus Williams in First Round of the Australian Open



Seeds stumble at the business end of Birmingham

Ana Ivanovic photo by Christopher Levy @tennis_shots

Ana Ivanovic photo by Christopher Levy @tennis_shots

Chalkdust Chronicles – Seeds stumble at the business end of Birmingham


(June 13, 2014) BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND – Hot on the heels of Sam Stosur coming out on the losing side of an all-Aussie affair was Sloane Stephens at the Aegon Classic on Friday in Birmingham. Earlier in the week she was asked whether this would be her shot at a final, but it looks like the tennis world will still be waiting, as she was brushed aside by Zhang Shuai 6-3, 6-1 for a place in the semi-final.


For the third morning in a row the American was opening up proceedings on the Ann Jones Centre Court, and while she seemed to be moving a bit better on another sunny day in Birmingham, her timing and range were a might bit off.


Zhang is almost an anti-Sloane Stephens in terms of their successes at Slams verses the tour. Stephens is very much one for the bigger occasions while Zhang has yet to win her first R128 at a Grand Slam. In fact last year she all but missed them.


“Last year Australian Open, before I have injury and then I didn’t go to Australia. So French Open I have to play qualies, but I’m still in the Belgium, Brussels, still in the draw. So I don’t have chance to play qualies because same week I’m still in the draw. I can’t play two tournaments same week, so I miss the French Open.


“In Wimbledon I have in my country, China, have the national game, so very big tournament of Chinese player. So I stay in China play the national game, so I miss the third Grand Slam last year, Wimbledon. But I come to Wimbledon play doubles and mixed last year.”


More brushing aside, top seed Ana Ivanovic ploughed through a sometime tearful Klara Koukalova 6-1, 6-4 and proceeded to chatter enthusiastically about her plans after Birmingham.


“I’m going to actually be in London and train there and then, I have some also free time to go to the city a little bit and relax. We don’t get to do that much during the tournament, especially we stay in Wimbledon Village. It’s a good opportunity to do it the week before and let your hair down a little bit and not think too much about the matches yet. Then looking forward Wimbledon pre‑party.”


The dream run of Kimiko Date-Krumm ended a lot less glowingly than her great performance yesterday against defending champion Daniela Hantuchova, as it was her turn to be on the unfortunate end of a bagel.


Casey Dellacqua, who came back from a set down against fellow countrywoman Sam Stosur was on fire as Date-Krumm needed something a little more than her trademark tea to calm her fraying nerves as Dellacqua allowed the veteran just a single game in the match, as she sets up a semi-final against Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.


Play starts at 12pm BST with Ivanovic and Zhang, followed by Zahlavova Strycova v Dellacqua.