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Birmingham: Around The City

Birmingham: Around The City

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970
Johanna Konta and Petra Kvitova took one of Birmingham's canals by storm during one of the Aegon Classic's many rain delays.

Johanna Konta and Petra Kvitova took one of Birmingham’s canals by storm during one of the Aegon Classic’s many rain delays.

Kvitova takes to one end of the Birmingham canal to engage in a light-hearted rally with the Brit on the other side.

Kvitova takes to one end of the Birmingham canal to engage in a light-hearted rally with the Brit on the other side.

Kvitova and Konta learned a net isn't necessary after all when playing canal tennis.

Kvitova and Konta learned a net isn’t necessary after all when playing canal tennis.

Meanwhile, doubles starlet Andrea Hlavackova took a tour of Cadbury World to learn the ins and outs of chocolate production.

Meanwhile, doubles starlet Andrea Hlavackova took a tour of Cadbury World to learn the ins and outs of chocolate production.

Lucie Safarova shows off one of her delicious creations.

Lucie Safarova shows off one of her delicious creations.

Hometown favorite Heather Watson tried her hand at sweet fashion by making a chocolate shoe.

Hometown favorite Heather Watson tried her hand at sweet fashion by making a chocolate shoe.

The WTA stars showing off their finished products.

The WTA stars showing off their finished products.

Hlavackova, Safarova, and Watson got to leave Cadbury World with quite the souvenir they helped make themselves.

Hlavackova, Safarova, and Watson got to leave Cadbury World with quite the souvenir they helped make themselves.

Tara Moore and Andrea Petkovic took a trip to Villa Park, the local football stadium in Aston.

Tara Moore and Andrea Petkovic took a trip to Villa Park, the local football stadium in Aston.

Petkovic showed off some of her fancy footwork with a powerful kick.

Petkovic showed off some of her fancy footwork with a powerful kick.

Not to be outdone, recent Nottingham quarterfinalist Moore tried her own kick of the ball.

Not to be outdone, recent Nottingham quarterfinalist Moore tried her own kick of the ball.

Later on, Moore and Petkovic received signature jerseys in the colors of the Aston Villa Football Club.

Later on, Moore and Petkovic received signature jerseys in the colors of the Aston Villa Football Club.

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Ivanovic Solves Sorribes Tormo

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

MALLORCA, Spain – Former World No.1 Ana Ivanovic enjoyed one of her most emphatic wins of the season, dismantling Sara Sorribes Tormo, 6-1, 6-0, to reach the quarterfinals of the Mallorca Open.

Watch live action from Birmingham and Mallorca this week on WTA Live powered by TennisTV!

Playing against her childhood idol, the 19 year old was overawed on the Center Court in Mallorca, lasting just 51 minutes against the 2008 French Open champion, who was hoping to turn around a disappointing season with a second WTA quarterfinal appearance.

“Honestly, grass is not my favorite surface,” the Serb said in her post-match press-conference, “but I’ve loved playing in Mallorca. I really hope I can keep playing well to stay long. The courts and crowd are really nice, so it’s a good feeling.

“I remember the first time I played the Williams sisters; you’re a little bit overwhelmed playing someone you used to look up to. But she’s very young still, and had some good strokes. Hopefully she can get better and move into the top of the game.”

Dropping just seven points behind her first serve, Ivanovic convered five of nine break point opportunities to set up a match against No.6 seed Caroline Garcia.

“I think we’ve been lucky to have perfect weather here; I know they’ve been struggling in Birmingham. I’ve actually had fun playing here. Yesterday, we had fun in doubles too, with Kirsten Flipkens.

“Garcia won the last three times we played, but it’s a different surface, and I’ll have to be extra focused and low on my shots. I have to go into the match knowing it’s going to be close, and look for my opportunities.”

Garcia played earlier in the day and survived a nail-biter of a second set tie-break against unseeded German Anna-Lena Friedsam, advancing, 6-4, 7-6(4).

“It’s good weather and I like when it’s hot. It was two tight sets, but you need a lot of energy on grass and a lot of focus. So every point is very important; I’m happy to be through in two sets.

“Maybe I played the important points better, but it was very tight. That’s grass also, and why you have to stay focused on every point. It’s a very different game, but good to have it for a month – just a month though!”

The Frenchwoman has won her last three matches against Ivanovic – all of which occurred in the spring of 2015 – but the pair have never met on a grass court.

“It’s not very natural for me,” she told press of the surface. “I have to say that the grass here is drier than it usually is in England, so it’s a little bit more comfortable for me. I feel safer on the court and the ball is bouncing higher, especially on my second serve. For your first tournament on grass, you don’t expect much, but I hope to keep going.”

Playing in the inaugural Mallorca Open meant opting out of the Aegon Classic in Birmingham, a tournament plagued by rain delays and poor weather.

“I’ve seen all the news on twitter about interruptions and suspensions. It’s frustrating because you can’t practice; you have to go indoors or the gym. When you want to go on grass, you want to at least be practicing. There’s a chance to do this here. Even when you’re done with a match, you can still practice. So I’m very happy with my choice!”

More to come…

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Garcia Masters Ivanovic In Mallorca

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

MALLORCA, Spain – Caroline Garcia continued her domination of No.3 seed Ana Ivanovic, dispatching the Serb in a titanic affair in the quarterfinals of the Mallorca Open, 7-6(9), 5-7, 6-3.

Watch live action from Birmingham and Mallorca this week on WTA Live powered by TennisTV!

Playing in her first-ever grass court quarterfinal, Garcia had plenty of momentum against Ivanovic, having won their last three matches in 2015. But Ivanovic had played some solid tennis of her own in Mallorca, and recovered from an early break to force a first set tie-break against her French nemesis.

“I had so many opportunities, but I stayed positive even when I’d lose my advantage,” Garcia said in her post-match press conference. “It’s good to win matches like this against a big player.

“I was down in the tie-break and had no choice but to go for it and take the opportunity before she could.”

Garcia saved a whopping five set points in the ensuing sudden death – three in a row from 3-6 down – and snuck off with the opening set on her second opportunity. Undaunted, Ivanovic fought back hard in the second set, winning three games in a row to level the contest after being two points from elimination.

“On grass, it’s more mental with so many short points. I was feeling good on the court, and would stay aggressive on the return to put pressure on Ana.

“I think movement is most difficult for me, especially when it’s humid and slippery.”

The Frenchwoman indeed maintained the pressure in the third, racing out to a 3-0 lead and weathering one last Serbian serge to serve out her spot in the semifinals, where she’ll play none other than Kirsten Flipkens, 2013 Wimbledon semifinalist and Ivanovic’s doubles partner.

“It’s a good test for me because she loves grass. I played her a couple weeks ago on clay, so it’ll be much different. She has the shots to play on this surface, so I will have to be aggressive and put the pressure on her.”

Flipkens edged past Paraguayan qualifier Veronica Cepede Royg, 7-5, 6-3, to reach her second WTA semifinal of 2016, and her first since finishing runner-up in Monterrey.

“It was warm today but I had a good match today,” the Belgian said in her post-match press conference. “I think she started off really well and at the beginning it was really tough to play my game. But I got into the match better and better, serving well.

“For sure, she was in good shape coming out of qualifying, so I needed to see how her game was. She got an early break, so it was important for me to break her back when she was serving for the set. I was always winning the first point on her serve, but it was a matter of getting into those second and third points.

“Once I broke back to 5-5, I felt like I was back in the match.”

With half the season left to go, Flipkens admitted she already achieved her main goal for 2016 – representing her country in the upcoming Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

“I’ve never played there before, so I’m very happy about that.”

No.2 seed Jelena Jankovic and Anastasija Sevastova snapped up the final two semifinal spots of the day; the former No.1 dispatched the resurgent Sorana Cirstea, 6-3, 6-3, while Sevastova recovered from a second set wobble to defeat Mariana Duque-Mariño, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

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Garcia, Sevastova Into Mallorca Final

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

MALLORCA, Spain – No.6 seed Caroline Garcia overcame a mid-match wobble against Kirsten Flipkens to make her way to the inaugural Mallorca Open final where she’s set to face Anastasija Sevastova for the title.

Watch live action from Birmingham and Mallorca this week on WTA Live powered by TennisTV!

It’s been an incredible few weeks for the on-the-rise Frenchwoman; she grabbed her first title of the year at Strasbourg, win the French Open doubles title with Kristina Mladenovic, and now here on the Spanish grass she’s into her second final of the year.

“When I arrived here I wasn’t expecting much because it’s normally very hard to reach the final in your first grass tournament of the year,” Garcia said. “I’ve just taken it match by match and slowly getting more confidence on the grass, even though still there’s things in the game that I want to improve.”

Garcia started out the match digging herself out of a 2-4 hole against Flipkens, whose game favors the faster surfaces. The Frenchwoman fired off four games in a row to snatch the first set away from the Belgian.

Despite Flipkens coming back to win the second 6-4, Garcia was in nearly impeccable form in the third. She rattled off five games in a row to take the match and advance 6-4, 4-6, 6-1.

“Every final is a new experience, but definitely the results give me more confidence,” Garcia said. “There is always tension and emotion but with experience I can manage it better and do my best tomorrow.”

Garcia’s opponent in the final had a dicy road to the inaugural Mallorca Open final. AnastasijaSevastova spent the night after her first-round win waylaid in the hospital after suffering a health scare.

“I had a stomach virus and after my first round, I started cramping and became dehydrated,” Sevastova told press ahead of her semifinal match. “I was fine during my match and for a little bit afterward. Then suddenly I started cramping and couldn’t stop.”

Sevastova spent the night in the hospital and was cleared to play the next day; she went on to beat Eugenie Bouchard and set up her semifinal clash with No.2 seed Jelena Jankovic.

Fully recovered from her opening round scare, Sevastova survived another one against Jankovic, who put her in a one-set deficit after 35 minutes. She settled her nerves and unleashed her flat groundstrokes and drop shots – aided in part by Jankovic’s own injury woes – to overturn the deficit and seal her comeback 4-6, 6-1, 6-2.

With the win, Sevastova makes her way into her first WTA final since 2010 at Oeiras.

“I don’t know really how to feel, I’m quite tired but I’m very happy,” Sevastova said. “It’s sinking in right now, but we’ll see how it goes. Tomorrow is another match – you can’t stop, you have to go on.”

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Keys Into Birmingham Final & Top 10

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

BIRMINGHAM, England – Madison Keys won a rollercoaster encounter with Carla Suárez Navarro on Saturday to reach the Aegon Classic Birmingham final and also break into the Top 10 for the first time.

Watch live action from Birmingham and Mallorca this week on WTA Live powered by TennisTV!

On a chilly day Keys took a while to warm to the task at hand, Suárez Navarro making light of her arduous path to the semifinals to wrap up the first set. But as the contest wore on, Keys found her rhythm, leveling the match up before eventually triumphing, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(3).

“The first set was definitely a slow start for me. I felt like my energy was really low and not very positive,” Keys said. “So it was a big thing for me just to come out and really be a lot more positive and have a high level of intensity and energy. If I was able to do that, and she beat me anyways, then too good from her.

“I would have been really disappointed in myself had I not been able to kind of at least change what I could on my side of the net.”

After withstanding Suárez Navarro’s early onslaught, Keys looked to be coasting into the final when she broke for a 3-2 lead midway through the decider. With the final beckoning, though, Keys tightened, netting a backhand to surrender the advantage and take the contest into a tie-break.

The previous evening, Suárez Navarro elevated her game to another level to end defending champion Angelique Kerber’s reign in a third set tie-break. Against Keys she was unable to repeat the feat, sending a tired backhand into the net to finally succumb.

Keys’ reward for the turnaround is a place in the final, where she will meet either Barbora Strycova or CoCo Vandeweghe, and also a Top 10 debut. On Monday morning she will join compatriots Serena and Venus Williams in the Top 10 – it is the first time since 2005 that three Americans have been in the Top 10 simultaneously.

Click here for more stats on Keys’ rankings breakthrough.

“I’m really excited right now, but I’m also trying to stay focused on the final,” Keys said. “I haven’t even really put a ton of thought of being in the Top 10. That will definitely sink in after the tournament. I’m happy with it, but more focused on wanting to win the final tomorrow.”

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