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Serena Returns To Action In Auckland

Serena Returns To Action In Auckland

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

AUCKLAND, New Zealand – World No.2 Serena Williams is back in action for the first time in five months at the ASB Classic, playing her first ever match in Auckland. She’s not the only big name hitting the court, though, with Venus Williams and Caroline Wozniacki also starting out 2017 in New Zealand.

Click here for the complete Auckland singles and doubles draws.


[1] Serena Williams vs [7] Jelena Ostapenko
[4] Barbora Strycova vs [5] Kiki Bertens
[6] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs [3] Caroline Wozniacki
[8] Ana Konjuh vs [2] Venus Williams

Serena Williams


It’s been over five months since Serena played a tour-level tennis match, after falling to Karolina Pliskova at the US Open semifinals. She ended her season rehabbing a troublesome shoulder injury that kept her out of the WTA Finals in Singapore.

Now that she’s back in action, No.1 seed Serena admits to relishing new experiences – on and off the court.

“I’ve never been in Auckland and so I’ve never had an opportunity to be first in the world to welcome in this New Year,” she said at a charity event ahead of her opening match.

“This is a new experience for me and the fact that I’m still having new experiences this deep into my career makes me feel really good.”

Serena Williams, Venus Williams

Competing at the ASB Classic for the first time, the newly-engaged Serena will have the chance to collect her first win in Auckland as she opens the day session on Tuesday against France’s Pauline Parmentier for the pair’s first tour-level match.

Later tonight, No.2 seed Venus is set to take on local wildcard Jade Lewis, while No.3 seed Wozniacki will close out the night session against Nicole Gibbs.

– Photos courtesy of Tennis Auckland

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Muguruza Survives Late-Night Thriller Against Kasatkina In Brisbane

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

BRISBANE, Australia – For the second time in as many days, Garbiñe Muguruza came back from the brink to keep her hopes alive at the Brisbane International.

Muguruza entertained a record crowd at the Queensland Tennis Centre on Tuesday night, coming from match point down for to defeat the courageous Daria Kasatkina, 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(7), in one minute shy of three hours.

“What a match! It was terrible, I was suffering until last moment, but I think we were both playing amazing,” Muguruza said in her on-court interview. “The tie break is just a few points where it will be decided. I don’t know how I won but I’m glad I did it.

In a match that ebbed and flowed until the last, Kasatkina came roaring back from 4-1 down in the deciding set only to stumble when she was then presented with the opportunity to serve for it. Muguruza, somehow maintained her composure in the subsequent tie-break, wiping out a match point at 6-7 with a pin-point forehand before eventually making her weary limbs across the finishing line.

The previous evening, the Spaniard had been involved in an equally dramatic contest against home favorite Samantha Stosur. By her own admission, it is an atmosphere she revels in.

“I love to play in this type of court when the crowd is so into the match. I like to make them enjoy and suffer like me!”

In the quarterfinals, Muguruza will face either Svetlana Kuznetsova or Destanee Aiava.

Another seed put through the ringer was Elina Svitolina, who eventually saw off Shelby Rogers, 7-5, 2-6, 7-5.

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Gavrilova Stuns Halep In Rome

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

ROME, Italy – Daria Gavrilova continues to save her best tennis for the Internazionali BNL d’Italia; looking to back up her run to last year’s semifinals, the Aussie outlasted Mutua Madrid Open winner Simona Halep, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, to reach the third round.

Watch highlights, interviews and more video from Madrid right here on!

“I played pretty well the whole match,” Gavrilova said after her win. “It was always going to be a tough battle because we’re pretty similar players.

“A few years back, I was watching her play thinking, ‘I could play like her,’ and beating her today was an unreal feeling. I was super happy. After the rain delay, I could reset and come out there playing very good!”

Halep needed three sets to defeat Gavrilova in their only previous encounter at the 2015 BNP Paribas Open, and the match was headed to another photo finish when a rain delay halted proceedings at one set apiece.

“Maybe if it wouldn’t rain, maybe I would have played better,” Halep said in her post-match press conference. “But that’s it. I cannot change anything. If it’s raining, it’s raining. If I lose, you lose. I won a lot of matches last week, so I don’t give up now that I lost one match.”

Play has been suspended due to rain ☔️ #ibi16

Working her way through an even contest, the 2009 French Open junior finalist looked to be fading, but quickly caught fire after saving a break point in the fourth game.

Showing off the sort of boundless energy that has become her signature, the unseeded Aussie promptly broke serve in the next game and all but ran away with the match from there. Surviving a brief hiccup when serving for it, she broke once more at love to clinch the match in just under two hours, hitting 30 winners to 31 unforced errors.

The win was Gavrilova’s first over a Top 5 player this season, and second of her career – having previously defeated then-World No.2 Maria Sharapova in the second round of last year’s Miami Open ahead of her Roman run.

Though Halep didn’t display the form that took her to a second career Premier Mandatory title in Madrid, the Romanian nonetheless hit 29 winners of her own, but wasn’t able to make up for her 33 unforced errors hit over the course of three sets.

“It’s not a big drama that I lost today,” Halep said. “But it still was a loss and it’s not easy.

“I take just a positive from last week. Today was tough for me to adapt, but still I could play better, but that’s it. I’m still confident, but I have to keep working to go to French Open.”

Up next for Gavrilova is No.9 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova on Pietrangeli Court; the Russian eased past Madrid semifinalist Samantha Stosur, 6-4, 6-4, just before the rain delay. Growing uo in Russia, the 2009 French Open champion is a player she knows well.

“When I was little, my first coach was telling us about her childhood. She was our hero, as well as Maria. I have so much respect for her. It’s exciting, and I’m pretty sure she likes clay!”

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Serena Steadies To Reach Last Eight

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

ROME, Italy – Trailing by an early break, top seed Serena Williams saved a set point to outlast countrywoman Christina McHale and ease into the quarterfinals of the Internazionali BNL d”Italia, 7-6(7), 6-1.

Watch highlights, interviews and more video from Rome right here on!

“I feel good, because I feel like she hits a lot of balls back,” she said in her post-match press conference. “I wanted to get a match in like that where she gets a lot of balls back and see how I was able to do against that and see how I was physically after that, too.

“I think physically, you know, every day is a new day for me, and I just try to see when I wake up. I just go from there.”

A three-time champion in Rome, Williams was looking to reach her first clay court final of the season, but first had to rise to the challenge of solving McHale, who had pushed her to three sets at the Miami Open and outlasted former No.1 Ana Ivanovic in the previous round.

McHale served for the set in the ninth game – having converted her eighth break point opportunity at 2-2 – but Williams stepped up at that crucial moment, racing out to a 0-40 lead and eventually leveling the set three points later.

“Anyone can win on any day, and everyone’s going and gunning. No one is coming out and saying, Oh, I play a seed so I’m going to lose. They are saying, Oh, I play a seed so I’m going to win this match. And I think that’s what we need in tennis.”

Still, the young American wasn’t done fighting, saving two set points and holding one of her own in the ensuing tie-break before the 21-time Grand Slam champion shut the door.

Playing far more consistent tennis in the second set, Williams broke three times to end the contest on her second match point, hitting 21 winners to 35 unforced errors throughout the 101 minute encounter. For her part, McHale stayed within reach on the stats sheet, making seven fewer mistakes but also three fewer winners, but was held back by her break point conversion rate – 1/10 against the big-serving Serena.

Up next for the World No.1 is Svetlana Kuznetsova, the last woman to beat her back in the round of 16 in Miami; the Russian survived an up-and-down affair with 2015 Rome semifinalist Daria Gavrilova, 6-2, 2-6, 6-3.

“I think right now she’s probably one of the best clay-court players. I couldn’t ask for a better match going into Roland Garros, so this is a perfect opportunity for me, win or lose, to see where I am and get ready for what I’m ready for, which is the main event.

“In my mind I’m always No. 1, and I think I have always thought that since I have turned pro. And in everyone else’s mind, even when I was injured they are like, You’re No. 1. I’m like, Yeah, sure. So everyone else thinks it.”

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Muguruza First Into Rome Semifinals

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

ROME, Italy – Garbiñe Muguruza advanced to her first semifinal of the season with a straight set win over Timea Bacsinszky at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.

Watch highlights, interviews and more video from Rome right here on!

Last year, Muguruza locked horns with Bacsinszky three times, coming out on top on all three occasions. But for well over an hour at the Foro Italico, she struggled to subdue her Swiss rival and stamp her authority on the contest.

Ultimately, Muguruza’s aggression paid off, as she broke decisively in the final game of the opening stanza courtesy of a thumping cross-court backhand. The Spaniard continued to go for her shots in the second, reeling off the last four games to triumph, 7-5, 6-2, and set up a meeting with Madison Keys.

“I am satisfied. The matches I played with Timea before were very tough matches and very hard,” Muguruza said. “Obviously she’s Top 10. She’s there for a reason. So it’s a great victory for me on clay, also, because she beat Carla yesterday so that’s a sign she’s playing well.”

Muguruza arrived in the Italian capital on the back of an indifferent start to the year, winning consecutive matches at just three of her eight tournament outings. Despite her difficulties, the World No.4’s self-belief never wavered: “Obviously I didn’t have the results I had last year, but I’m doing exactly the same: practicing hard, getting ready and fit to get those good results, and that’s why this week is happening.

“I don’t think it’s magical. I have been doing everything I can since I started the year, but sometimes you don’t find the results you want. But for sure is a great tournament, this one.”

Over on Grandstand, Irina-Camelia Begu withstood a second set wobble to defeat Misaki Doi and reach the first Premier 5 semifinal of her career. After breezing through the first set, Begu came from 3-1 down in the second to eventually prevail, 6-2, 7-6(3).

By virtue of the result, Begu, who also reached the quarterfinals in Madrid, will return to the Top 30 in time to be seeded for the French Open, which begins a week on Sunday.

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