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Falling Short Never Fun, Says Frustrated Venus

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

Venus Williams admitted that she was frustrated to fall short at the quarterfinal stage of the BNP Paribas Open, losing in three sets to Elena Vesnina – but said she had given her utmost to the cause. Carrie Dunn reports.

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News | WTA Tennis English

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA – After the dust cleared from a thrilling fortnight at the BNP Paribas Open, it was two Russians who prevailed in the California desert. Svetlana Kuznetsova and Elena Vesnina are both vying for their first Indian Wells title, but which will come out on top on Sunday’s showdown?

Here’s 10 things to know before the championship match.

[8] Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS #8) vs [14] Elena Vesnina (RUS #15)
Head-to-Head: Tied 1-1

1) “Thirty is the new twenty in tennis!”
Vesnina joked about it in her post-match interview, but now the players are starting to believe it.

At 31 years and 297 days old, Kuznetsova was the seventh oldest player ever to reach the Indian Wells final, while at 30 years and 231 days, Vesnina is the ninth oldest.

Also, it’s the second time this season that two players over 30 meet in a final. Last time it happened? Serena Williams vs Venus Williams in the Australian Open.

2) Vesnina is gaining momentum.
It’s been a bumpy road to the Indian Wells final for Vesnina. She opened the 2017 season with back to back first round exits, falling to Alizé Cornet at the Brisbane International and retiring against CoCo Vandeweghe at the Apia International Sydney.

She regrouped at the Australian Open, where she posted a third round appearance and backed it up with a quarterfinal run at the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy. Now, she’s through to her first ever Premier Mandatory final at Indian Wells.

3) Kuznetsova keeps consistent.
On the other hand, consistency has been the name of Kuznetsova’s game.

The veteran Russian player has now reached the quarterfinals or better at six of her last eight tournaments: 2016 Tianjin Open (semifinals), 2016 Kremlin Cup in Moscow (champion), 2016 BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global (semifinals), 2017 Brisbane International (quarterfinals), 2017 St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy (quarterfinal) and now the 2017 BNP Paribas Open (final).

4) Russians ruling the desert.
With both Kuznetsova and Vesnina through to the final at Indian Wells, they’ve set the second all-Russian final in tournament history, and the first in over 10 years.

The last time two Russians met at this stage was back in 2006, when Maria Sharapova braved high winds to defeat Elena Dementieva 6-1, 6-2 and claim her 11th career title.

5) Third time’s the charm for Kuznetsova?
After a nine-year gap, Kuznetsova back into the Indian Wells final for the third time in her career. She posted back-to-back finals appearances, finishing as runner-up in 2007 (l. Daniela Hantuchova) and 2008 (l. Ana Ivanovic).

Will she finally go one better and take home the Premier Mandatory title?

6) Vesnina seeking new heights.
In addition to being the biggest title of Vesnina’s career, a win in the final would boost her ranking to No.13 – this would surpass her current career-high ranking of No.15, earned on February 6, 2017 following a run to the St. Petersburg quarterfinals.

7) Full circle moment for Vesnina.
A year ago, a No.86-ranked Vesnina fell in the first round of Indian Wells qualifying. A year later, she’s into the final.

“That was a big turnaround now for me, from first round of qualies and now being in the final. This is a dream,” Vesnina said in her post-match press conference.

“I hope it’s a great example for other players, you know, that everything can happen if you’re believe in yourself, you know that you have the game. Even when nothing is going your way and you’re losing in the first round of qualification, what can be worse?

“Don’t put yourself down and keep building these wins. Because last year, actually, I played a lot of tournaments from the quallies and it helps me. These kind of things give you belief that you’re almost there. Your ranking is not there, but your game is there. I think this is the most important.”

The last player to fall in Indian Wells qualifying then reach the final in their next appearance was Serena Williams (l. qualifying in 1997, won the title in 1999 – did not play in 1998).

8) Marathon woman Kuznetsova putting in the hours.
Kuznetsova has amassed an exhausting seven and a half hours on court throughout the fortnight, coming off a tight encounter with World No.3 Karolina Pliskova and earlier in the tournament posting wins over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Caroline Garcia, Roberta Vinci and Johanna Larsson.

If any of this sounds familiar, it’s because Kuznetsova has made a reputations of gritting through marathon matches throughout her career.

“I haven’t been worrying about two sets or three sets,” Kuznetsova said after her close, straight sets win over Pliskova. “I just feel great, you know, because I have been fighting for every ball.

“If she managed to win one of the sets and then we go for third, I would still be fighting and still playing every ball. If she manages to win me, I would say great job. But it doesn’t change my attempt in the match.”

9) But Vesnina’s got her beat.
After fighting past Shelby Rogers, Vesnina took down Budapest champion Timea Babos in three sets, before rallying to upset soon-to-be World No.1 Angelique Kerber and posting another three-setter against former World No.1 and Australian Open finalist Venus Williams.

Her heroics against arguably the tougher draw have accrued her almost nine hours on court – will she be able to recover in time to defeat her countrywoman?

10) Here’s where you can tune in.
Vesnina and Kuznetsova will battle it out on Sunday, March 19 at 11:00 am PST (14:00 EST, 18:00 GMT).

Click here to select your country and tune into the BNP Paribas Open final.

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Siegemund Sets Up All-German Final

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

STUTTGART, Germany – The giant-slaying run continued for Germany’s Laura Siegemund; the qualifier took out World No.2 Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-4, 6-2, to reach her first career WTA final at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix.

Watch live action from Stuttgart & Istanbul this week on WTA Live powered by TennisTV!

The qualifier won her seventh match of the week – and her 14th straight set since coming to Stuttgart – and had all the answers against the top seed, who lost five games in a row from a 3-1 advantage in the opening set.

“Maybe I’m a similar type like her to other players,” Siegemund said after the match. “I didn’t focus on beating her with her own weapon or anything like that. I was focussing on my game which has been working well the whole week and didn’t find the switch to play aggressive that well. I was playing a little bit short at the beginning which gave her a lot of options but managed to fix the problem and found my game, a little bit later than the other matches but I found it.”

Serving at a stunning 90% off her first serve, Siegemund played a near-perfect match against Radwanska, hitting 34 winners to just 17 unforced errors – racing past the Pole’s own stats of 13 winners and 15 unforced. Converting a double break lead on her fifth break point opportunity of the fifth game of the second set, all looked clear for Siegemund when Radwanska enjoyed a brief resurgence, breaking back and making the veteran fight for the finish line.

“I felt like I’m in the flow and I don’t need to think, I’m going to make the right decisions. Sometimes you feel you’re not in the flow and then it’s good to have a good strategy every single point. But today I stood up of the break and I knew I had to trust my intuition and it worked well. Sometimes you get up from the bench differently. It’s very individual in that situation. But I was very focussed, I was very calm. If it was 5-5, I had a plan as well. So, I felt good.”

In the midst of a breakthrough season that has already seen her reach the third round of the Australian Open and quarterfinals of the Volvo Car Open, Siegemund dutifully broke serve one last time and served out her spot in the final after one hour and 23 minutes.

“My tennis was not good enough, that’s for sure today,” Radwanska told press after the match. “Well, I think with that kind of game she is playing, the first shot is very important. And she was playing pretty much all in and every time she got the ball I think she had nothing to lose, so she just took the risk.

“I can’t complain; I had a really good start of the year, a couple of good results as you said, a couple of semi-finals and so far so good. Well, I hope I can keep going that way.”

Siegemund defeated three Top 10 players this week – Simona Halep and Roberta Vinci in addition to Radwanska – and her stellar run could have major implications on the German Olympic team; tentatively up to a new career-high ranking just outside the Top 40, Siegemund has leapfrogged countrywomen Sabine Lisicki, Anna-Lena Friedsam, Julia Goerges, and Mona Barthel to become the No.4 German behind Angelique Kerber (who she plays in the Stuttgart final), Andrea Petkovic, and Annika Beck. Kerber and Siegemund will be meeting for the first time, but the reigning Australian Open champion will be keen to defend the title she won for the first time in 2015.

In doubles, co-No.1s Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza appear to have gotten their groove back; Santina had struggled through early exits in Indian Wells and Miami, but are back in their first final since winning the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy. Against Lisicki and Lucie Safarova, the reigning Wimbledon, US Open, and Australian Open champions made a solid case for completing the Santina Slam at the French Open with a 6-4, 7-5 win in the semifinals.

No.2 seeds Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic won their first title of 2016 in Charleston, and got past former No.1 Kveta Peschke – who is playing her first tournament in over a year – and Anna-Lena Groenefeld in the second semifinal later on Saturday, 7-5, 5-7, 10-4. They will play Santina for a second straight title to bookend their Fed Cup heroics.

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