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Bacsinszky Books Rabat Final

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

RABAT, Morocco – Top seed Timea Bacsinszky showed off some of the grit that saw her reach the semifinals of last year’s French Open in the semifinals of the GP SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem, taking out Timea Babos, 6-4, 7-5.

Watch live action from Rabat & Prague this week on WTA Live powered by TennisTV!

The Swiss has been impressive all week in Rabat, but withstood a fierce challenge from the No.5 seed, who leveled the second set at love as theLo former World No.10 tried serving for the match. Bacsinszky made no mistake in her second chance, earning her first WTA final berth of the season in an hour and 46 minutes.

Her opponent in Saturday’s final will be New Zealand’s Marina Erakovic; saving a match point in the second set tie-break, the World No.186  outlasted Dutch powerhouse Kiki Bertens, 2-6, 7-6(7), 7-5. Edging ahead 5-3 in the final set, Bertens engineered one last twist in the topsy turvy match, saving two match points of her own and pushing perilously close to another tie-break before Erakovic converted on her third match point.

“I think I just kept trying to find my game in the first set,” the former No.39 said after the match. “I felt like I was lacking a little bit of rhythm, but I just kept trying and trying. In tennis, anything can happen, so you just keep working. Kiki is playing well, and it was a good level of tennis. It’s nice to win today but it’s also nice to win matches like these where you fight very hard and it pays off.”

Into her fifth career WTA final, Erakovic is enjoying her best week since a knee injury curtailed her progress at the end of last year.

“I really like Morocco. It’s a great place; I’ve come here before and I really enjoyed it. It’s great to be in another final, especially since I had a very tough year last year and I’ve been trying very hard to come back and to rehab all of the injuries. It’s nice to see these kinds of things after that.”

The doubles final brought Friday’s play to its conclusion as No.4 seeds Aleksandra Krunic and Xenia Knoll upset top seeds Tatjana Maria and Raluca Olaru, 6-3, 6-0.

More to come…

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Insider Podcast: Hola Madrid

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

On this Dropshot Edition of the podcast, WTA Insider Senior Writer Courtney Nguyen previews the Mutua Madrid Open draw. Will Victoria Azarenka pick up where she left off and assert her dominance on clay? Or will it be the tour’s Road to Singapore leader Angelique Kerber build on her title at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix to breakthrough in Madrid’s altitude? If the two most dominant players on tour this season don’t end up with the final, who is poised to play the spoiler?

Joining the podcast to help preview the action is René Denfeld, contributing writer for The Tennis Island, who is also in Madrid for the week.

Nguyen on Azarenka’s clay court preparation: All eyes are on Victoria Azarenka, 24-1 on the season. I was encouraged by what she said today during All-Access Hour, how this was her first clay court preparation with her new team, and hearing some new advice from her team – new voices. I think the numbers through the season on the hardcourts have shown that she is playing some of her best tennis. She’s serving better than she ever has in her career, and on return she’s right up there alongside the numbers she was posting in her peak years of 2012 and 2013. In all ways, you think this is Azarenka’s season, which is a weird thing today when Angelique Kerber has won Stuttgart and the Australian Open.

Denfeld on comparing Azarenka’s season to Kerber’s: Kerber put in a tremendous run at the Aussie Open, taking out the two biggest favorites along the way, and backing up a title for the first time in her career. What Kerber’s done really well over the last six months is learn from experiences in terms of dealing with pressure. But in terms of consistent performance over the last four months, I put Victoria Azarenka ahead of her, and everyone in Germany is going to throw rocks at me when I come back!

Nguyen on Agnieszka Radwanska’s confidence on clay: It’s interesting because when I’ve talked to Aga about her clay issues, it’s always a curious thing because she says, ‘I grew up on clay; this was the surface I played on.’ But then once she started to play on tour, 90% of the tournaments were on hardcourts. She made those adjustments and faster courts became her strength. When I ask her to drill down on the adjustments she made or what makes clay a challenge for here, she never points to the power deficiency issue, or the technical issue, that the ball sits up. She always points to movement; she’s said, ‘I like sliding on hardcourts, but for some reason, I don’t like sliding on a clay court. I need to be able to run to win matches, and if you take the ability to run away from me, it exposes my game.’

Denfeld on Simona Halep: Of all the seeds, I think this might be the most key tournament for Halep, because I’m a little confused as to the state of Simona at the moment. She said she felt fine and that her ankle felt good; I’m just curious what this tournament holds for Halep. She says she has no expectations, and for me that’s tough to judge, because with no expectations, what does a first round loss mean? She had some good results in the US, and then that curious end against Laura Siegemund, having breathing problems. It created more questions than answers, but it would be good to see some results to resolve them.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or on any podcast app of your choice and reviews are always helpful, so if you like what you’ve heard so far, leave us one. You can also get new episode alerts by following us on Twitter @WTA_Insider.

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News | WTA Tennis English

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

STUTTGART, Germany – World No.4 Dominika Cibulkova has withdrawn from the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix due to a wrist injury.

Seeded No.3 at the tour’s first Premier tournament on European red clay, Cibulkova injured her wrist last week during practice ahead of Slovakia’s weekend tie against the Netherlands.

Cibulkova was forced to withdraw from the tie and, despite a first-round bye in Stuttgart, was unable to heal in time for Stuttgart.

As a result of Cibulkova’s withdrawal and in accordance with WTA rules, No.5 seed Garbiñe Muguruza, who was set to play her first-round match against countrywoman Carla Suárez Navarro, moves into Cibulkova’s vacated spot in the draw and now has a first-round bye.

A qualifier or lucky loser will take Muguruza’s vacated spot and will play Suárez Navarro. The rest of the draw remains unchanged.

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News | WTA Tennis English

News | WTA Tennis English

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

BRISBANE, Australia – It was Saturday, January 10, 2009 when a future World No.1 would make her first mark on the WTA tour, as a then-19-year-old Victoria Azarenka took home her very first WTA title at the Brisbane International.

The talented teenager had been knocking on the door for a while; she’d already featured in four finals, including at the previous year’s Gold Coast women’s event, which would merge with the Adelaide men’s tournament to form the Brisbane International.

Azarenka, then ranked World No.16 and seeded two at the tournament, would not be denied a fifth time and routed Marion Bartoli 6-3, 6-1 in the final.

“Everybody says the third time’s the charm but for me it is the fifth one – I’m just glad I got it,” the Belarusian laughed in her post-championship press conference.

“I just go out and play no matter what happens. That probably helped me. It was like playing a regular match – that is what helped me finish it so quickly.”

Azarenka would go on to write her name in the tennis history books and record even more significant milestones on Australian soil; she eventually took home her first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in 2012 and rose to WTA World No.1 for the first time.

But, back in 2009 at Brisbane, Azarenka was just getting started.  

Check out more photos of Azarenka’s maiden moment of victory, courtesy of Getty Images:

Victoria Azarenka, Marion Baroli

Antonio Van Grichen, Victoria Azarenka

Victoria Azarenka, Marion Baroli

Victoria Azarenka

Victoria Azarenka

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Serena Rolls Into Rome Third Round

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

ROME, Italy – Serena Williams left little doubt about her clay court form after easing into the third round with a straightforward win over Anna-Lena Friedsam 6-4, 6-3 at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.

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

“I feel pretty good,” Williams said in her press conference before the match. “I wasn’t feeling really good for the past several weeks and even the past few days. But right now I’m better.

“I will see how I’m doing when I step on the court for the first time, but overall I think I’m feeling a lot better.”

She hadn’t played a tennis match in a month and a half – since her round of 16 appearance in Miami and subsequent withdrawal from the Mutua Madrid Open – but the three-time Rome champion was too much for Friedsam to handle.

The 22-year-old Friedsam – who reached a career-high ranking of No.50 this week – is making big strides in the WTA and finding the confidence to back up her big game. Earlier this year she reached the semifinals of Shenzhen and the final of the 125K event in San Antonio, and last year at the French Open she stretched Williams to three sets in their only previous encounter – the World No.1 had to battle back from a set down to advance on her way to the title.

Things were more straightforward in Rome, the first match of Williams’ 2016 clay campaign. She broke once to snag an early lead at 2-1 in the first set, then three times in the second set to put the match away after an hour and fifteen minutes. She struck 27 winners and 18 unforced errors to Friedsam’s 16 and 21.

“I was really happy with my level,” Williams said after the match. “I think I was really consistent. I think I was mentally consistent. I started out fast. Those are some of the things I wanted to work on [and] I was really happy about that.”

In the day’s other second-round match, last year’s finalist Carla Suárez Navarro survived a tricky second set to advance past Teliana Pereira 6-1, 7-5.

“I played a really good match, but the second set I tried to close the match but it was really tough,” Suárez Navarro said. “She came back really good and I was really, really nervous.

“You have to know how to finish that kind of match, so I’m happy because it was tough for me.”

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Best Moments From Pennetta’s Celebration

Best Moments From Pennetta’s Celebration

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

ROME, Italy – After officially stepping away from the game at the 2015 BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, Flavia Pennetta had an emotional retirement ceremony on Court Pietrangeli at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia this Tuesday.

The ceremony celebrated the Pennetta’s long and successful career, which saw her become Italy’s first No.1 woman in 2009 and a US Open champion in the tournament’s first all-Italian final in 2015. With her family and friends in attendance – along with hundreds of adoring Italian fans – Pennetta was joined on court by WTA CEO Steve Simon, Francesca Schiavone and several of the players, umpires and journalists she’s worked with during her 15 years on tour.

Video messages poured in from around the tennis world for the Italian champion, including well wishes from Serena Williams, Billie Jean King, Chrissie Evert, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.

“It was so nice to have the people here with me,” an emotional Pennetta said. “The girls, Steve Simon, the WTA made an unbelievable video for me and I really appreciate everything.

“Like I said, this is my family. This was my family for such a long time. It’s not finished. We spend so much time together. It’s normal to feel this emotion.”

Watch the messages in the tribute video above and check out the best photos of the ceremony below.

Click here to watch the full retirement ceremony.

Flavia Pennetta

Flavia Pennetta

Lara Arruabarrena, <a class=Francesca Schiavone, Flavia Pennetta” src=”,,12781~14576230,00.jpg” width=600 height=399>

Flavia Pennetta, Fabio Fognini

Elena Vesnina, Roberta Vinci

Steve Simon

Steve Simon, Flavia Pennetta

Flavia Pennetta

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Keys Unlocks Kvitova Upset

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

ROME, Italy – Madison Keys employed thoughtful aggression under the lights of Center Court, pulling off a 6-3, 6-4 upset of No.5 seed Petra Kvitova to advance to the third round of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.

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

“I definitely didn’t want to start down 2-0 right off the bat,” Keys said of her initially slow start. “But I was able to recover from that, build some momentum and keep it going.”

Hitting eight aces in the 78 minute match, Keys maintained an even winner/unforced error differential against Kvitova, who had enjoyed a strong start to her clay court campaign with a run to the semifinals of the Porsche Grand Prix. The Czech star hit nine fewer winners compared with the American youngster (11 to 20) and six more errors (27 to 21), only managing to engineer one break point in the contest.

Keys, by contrast, broke serve  three times and maintained an impeccable 85% first serve percentage.

“It’s definitely more love than hate now,” the 21-year-old said of her relationship with clay. “The first couple of years were very difficult for me; I never really played on red clay growing up. I think every year is a little more experience, and I’m feeling more comfortable.”

Up next for the unseeded American is Hungary’s Timea Babos, who outlasted No.12 seed Venus Williams, 6-7(5), 7-5, 6-4, in just under three hours.

“I’ve played her on grass, and I think I got my butt kicked,’ Keys laughed. “So hopefully, it’ll be a little bit better for me next time. I haven’t really seen her play in the last couple of years, so I’ll definitely rely on my coach to help me figure that out.”

Babos led by a double break to start the match; by the final set, the 23-year-old thrice recovered from a break of serve – hitting 32 winners to 43 unforced errors during the two hour, 55 minute affair – to unseat the 35-year-old, who hit 48 winners to 56 unforced errors.

“I’m really happy to win,” she said after the match. “Venus is one of the biggest players in history and it’s the first time I’ve ever played her, so I just tried to think of my tennis and not about who was on the other side of the net.

“I started well, but then was a little more shaky, but I was fighting until the last moment.”

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Insider RG Contenders: Kerber

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

Angelique Kerber’s 2016 has been about countering the narrative. In fact, let’s expand that. Her last two seasons have been about proving the conventional wisdom wrong. After a frustrating 2014 season, which saw her go titleless despite making four Premier finals, the German rebounded in 2015 to win four Premier titles and finish the year at No.10.

But her results at the Slams waned last season. She never got past the third round at any of the four majors and completely choked under the pressure at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, falling one set short of advancing to the semifinals. Going into 2016 it was easy to discount Kerber as a hard-working, talented player, who just didn’t have the fortitude to win the big titles.

Then she proceeded to win the one Slam at which she had historically posted her worst results, beating the hottest player at the time in Victoria Azarenka and World No.1 and defending champion Serena Williams to win the Australian Open.

Kerber will be seeded No.3 at the French Open next week. Paris has proved a perplexing place for the 28-year-old. She has made it past the fourth round just once, stalling in the fourth round in two of the last three years. A closer look at her recent losses in Paris reveal they really weren’t bad ones, losing to Garbiñe Muguruza (2015), Eugenie Bouchard (2014), and Svetlana Kuznetsova (2013).

With nine titles under her belt, Kerber has proven she can win on any surface. Indoors, outdoors, grass, clay, or hard court, she has a title on each. Last month she successfully defended her title at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix. That title came on the heels of back-to-back wins in Fed Cup over two of the best clay courters right now, in Simona Halep and Irina-Camelia Begu. A week before that came a semifinal run in Charleston, which ended in her retirement due to illness. In our Clay Court Power Rankings only she and Serena Williams were able to match their ranking on clay with their overall ranking. In other words, Kerber is as good on clay as she is on all other surfaces.

The question is whether Kerber goes into Paris with the confidence of the woman who made the Miami semifinals, Charleston semifinals, and won Stuttgart, or the confidence of the woman who lost both her opening matches at the Mutua Madrid Open (l. Strycova) and Internazionali BNL d’Italia (l. Bouchard) in her lead-up. In Rome she told her coach Torben Beltz during an on-court coaching timeout that she couldn’t find any rhythm, and hinted that their practices that week had not gone well. Perhaps the early exit from Rome gave her extra time to fix what’s been going wrong.

One key to assessing Kerber’s chances in Paris are the conditions. Warm, fast conditions will play into her strengths as she’ll be able to inject extra power and get her shots through the court. Slow, wet conditions will slow down her ball – especially her serve – and she’ll be caught on defense far too often.

But if she gets a good draw that allows her to earn easy wins through the first week, a confident Kerber can do damage at the French Open. Serena Williams is the favorite in Paris, no doubt. Then again, she was the favorite in Melbourne, too. And we all saw how that turned out.

Click here to keep up with WTA Insider’s pre-French Open coverage!

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French Open Fashion Review

French Open Fashion Review

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

WTA players are going to give all they’ve got to perform well at the 2016 French Open, leaving it to their clothing sponsors to make sure that comfort and style are not compromised during strenuous matches. Let’s hand over to Marija Zivlak of Women’s Tennis Blog and see the outfits ready to rock the world of sports fashion during the most prestigious tennis tournament on clay.

Simona Halep

Last year adidas made noise with designer Yohji Yamamoto’s avant-garde styles and this year the standout collaboration is again bringing us a daring one-of-a-kind range. The Roland Garros 2016 collaboration between adidas Tennis and Y-3 has produced an eye-catching print, inspired by dazzle camouflage from the 40s and 50s.

Ana Ivanovic, Angelique Kerber, Simona Halep and Kristina Mladenovic will all go for these zebra-like stripes, which evoke a sense of movement even when players are standing still between points.

Players can opt for the visually-striking adidas Roland Garros Y-3 On Court Dress or a dazzling combination of the adidas Roland Garros Y-3 Tank to be paired with a black skort featuring layered jacquard mesh overlay.

Angelique Kerber

The adidas adizero Y-3 2016 Shoes are promising to deliver incredible resilience and energy return during intense rallies, providing ultimate traction, as well as the feeling of comfort.

Serena Williams

Nike is honoring the tournament’s host country by clothing its players in a spectrum of blues, France’s signature color, with world number one Serena Williams sporting a light photo blue NikeCourt Premier Dress, which captivates with its modern take on a classic vibe. Dropped back hem, box pleats and mesh back panel ensure comfortable fit and captivating design.

Madison Keys

Madison Keys‘blue outfitincludes the collared NikeCourt Premier Advantage Sleeveless Polo and the pleated NikeCourt Victory Skirt, which ensures photogenic movement and minimal distractions thanks to an inner ball short.

Caroline Wozniacki

Caroline Wozniacki‘s planned adidas Summer Stella McCartney Tour Dress included all the fashion elements we’ve loved so much, like the figure-slimming frontal colorblock, T-shaped racerback, oval mesh inset at back and floral print, bringing all the features together with a nice lilac shade. Such a pity the Dane has withdrawn from Roland Garros!

Garbine Muguruza

The range also includes a variety of tops and bottoms, allowing for a number of stylish combinations, my favorite being Garbiñe Muguruza‘s combo that made my March’s best dressed list: the fresh yellow adidas Summer Stella McCartney Tour Tank and its matching adidas Summer Stella McCartney Tour Skirt with four rows of laser-cut hexagons.

Jelena Jankovic

Jelena Jankovic will choose from these four colorful dresses, part of Fila’s limited-edition Spring 2016 collection designed by Wimbledon 2013 champion Marion Bartoli. The Serb has already debuted the dotted “eye dress” at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, becoming the top fashion talk of the tournament, and we can only look forward to seeing the rest of “Love Fila by Marion Bartoli” cooperation, especially the lavender dress with the Eiffel Tower print, inspired by the Frenchwoman’s hometown of Paris.

“I’m happy to wear something that’s different, you know. You can also go out of the comfort zone and the classic ones. I like the classic, you know, as well. But it’s also nice to sometimes have a changeup and just wear something that’s not really typical print for a tennis dress,” Jankovic said about the collection in Rome.


Other Fila athletes, most notably Karolina Pliskova and Yaroslava Shvedova, will sport the Gingham collection, celebrating the quintessential print with peacoat navy and white checks. Shvedova’s promotional image showcases the Fila Spring Gingham Racerback Tank, one of five available silhouettes of tops, and the Fila Spring Gingham Skirt, which exists in navy, gingham and white, and is designed to match all the shirts from the range.

Venus Williams

Venus Williams prepared the EleVen Geo Swirl Dress for Roland Garros. The cut is highlighted by the narrow high neckline and thin white straps at waist for a figure-flattering effect.

Elena Vesnina

Lacoste‘s WTA players, most notably Elena Vesnina and Dominika Cibulkova, will wear the Spring 2016 collection, including the above-shown Lacoste Spring Dress, specific for its quarter-zip entry at chest and keyhole cutout at center back, the Lacoste Spring Mesh Back Tank, a traditional design with mesh panels at upper back and underarms that provide breathability and visual interest, and the Lacoste Spring Contrast Tipped Skirt, a classic piece with stylish contrast binding.

Agnieszka Radwanska

Agnieszka Radwanska will wear a coral dress from Lotto’s limited-edition Lacy line, a feminine piece whose elegant lace takes on unique forms, bringing Paris runways to the courts without compromising comfort and performance. The new SS16 Stratosphere speed-oriented shoes will help Radwanska move confidently on clay, as the innovative technology provides optimal cushioning and responsiveness with every step.

Heather Watson

Heather Watson will wear the New Balance Tournament Dress, which made my April’s best dressed list, as seen on Sorana Cirstea at the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Cup. Strappy racerback, “N” houndstooth burnout stretch mesh back panel and NB DRY technology ensure a good range of motion and comfortable performance with minimum sweat. The Brit will be competing in the New Balance 996v2, a lightweight performance tennis shoe made with PROBANK stability technology.

Paris native Alizé Lim will try to make the second round of a Grand Slam for the first time, wearing a jumpsuit designed according to her guidelines. Another bold move by Le Coq Sportif!

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