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Schiavone, Rogers Reach Rio Final

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – Former World No.4 and 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone reached her first WTA final since 2013 with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Petra Martic.

Playing in her first WTA semifinal in nearly 18 months (2014, Hong Kong), Schiavone put down four aces and won 84% of points behind her first serve against Martic, herself a former World No.42 who one made the second week of Roland Garros back in 2012.

It had been a difficult start to 2016 for Schiavone, who missed out on a 62nd consecutive Grand Slam main draw appearance when she fell in the second round of qualifying at the Australian Open.

“When I chose Rio, I chose it mainly because it was clay,” Schiavone said in her post-match press conference. “I remembered the conditions here being very difficult, so I trained as much as is possible for me to prepare myself on clay to be ready for the heat and the effort.

“Obviously when you come here, you try to prepare as much as you can, but you don’t think ‘I’m going there to win it,’ no, no. It’s a wonderful surprise; it’s been a long time since I’ve had this big a result, so I’m taking it as it comes.”

Schiavone next plays resurgent American Shelby Rogers. Playing her first WTA main draw since the Coupe Banque Nationale last fall, Rogers ended the excellent adventure of Sorana Cirstea, a former World No.21 who had amassed a 12-1 record heading into the semifinal by reaching back-to-back finals at two Challenger tournaments in Brazil.

“It feels amazing. I’ve had a really great week, played some good matches,” Rogers said in her post-match press conference. “I got a little momentum at the beginning, but this year has been good so far; I’ve already played a lot of matches, so that’s been a big help.

“Winning this many matches in a row and playing very well is definitely a confidence-builder, but I’ve also had to fight through some tough moments in those matches. Those are where I really get confidence from, so hopefully I can carry that into tomorrow and through the rest of the year.”

Rogers won, 6-4, 6-4, and will be playing Schiavone for the first time in what will be her second career WTA final (Schiavone’s 18th).

“Rogers is a player I don’t know very well,” Schiavone said. “But it’s going to be interesting. A final is really a 50-50 chance.”

In doubles, Veronica Cepede Royg and María Irigoyen captured the doubles final with a 6-1, 7-6(5) win over Tara Moore and Conny Perrin. For Paraguay’s Cepede Royg, the Rio Open is her first WTA title of any king, while Irigoyen won her only previous WTA title back in 2014, playing doubles in Rio with Irina-Camelia Begu.

“I want to thank my partner for the amazing week we had here in Rio,” Cepede Royg said after the match. “I’m really happy for winning my first WTA title in Rio.:

“This is such an enchanting place and the city is beautiful,” Irigoyen added. “I love coming here, people are really receptive and it was a special week.”

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Kuznetsova, Wozniacki Renew NY Rivalry

Kuznetsova, Wozniacki Renew NY Rivalry

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

NEW YORK, NY, USA – Tied at six matches apiece, the rivalry between Svetlana Kuznetsova and Caroline Wozniacki is among the most underrated in tennis.

Meeting for the 13th time in the second round of this year’s US Open, the pair differs in almost every way. The Russian’s power game contrasts the Dane’s wall-like defenses. Kuznetsova’s flashes of brilliances have been rewarded with two Grand Slam titles, while Wozniacki’s maddening consistency earned her the No.1 ranking for 67 weeks – the ninth largest total in WTA history.

Two of their most high-profile meetings have come in Flushing Meadows; the first was all the way back in 2009, when Kuznetsova was a reigning French Open winner, while Wozniacki was a star on the rise. The Dane took the match in three tense sets to make it all the way to her first major final. Two years later, it was Wozniacki who was on top of the world, taking on a feisty veteran Kuznetsova, who was eager to earn her way back into the upper echelons in the game.

“She’s been playing well, and we’ve had a lot of grueling matches, like 7-6 and 7-5 in the third,” Wozniacki told press after her first round win over Taylor Townsend. “It’s a match I’m looking forward to. I’m just going to have fun out there and enjoy every moment.”

“It’s another match,” Kuznetsova echoed after her 6-1, 6-2 victory against Francesca Schiavone. “She’s a great opponent, a great player. It’s going to be another tough one. I just have to go out there and play my best; that’s it.”

The tides have turned yet again, and Kuznetsova is back in the Top 10 with her best season since 2009 already in the books, while Wozniacki is at a nine-year low at No.74 after months of injury woes.

Caroline Wozniacki

“It hasn’t been a good season, because I’ve been injured for most of it,” Wozniacki mused. “That’s something you can’t really do much about other than keep working and keep trying to get your body in check. I’m just happy to be here and happy to get another match.”

Wozniacki christened the new Grandstand court with a titanic match against Townsend, who battled through three rounds of qualies and was a set away from unseating the former No.1.

“It was really difficult, with her lefty spin serves. I like to say I’m one of the better returners on tour, but that did not show and so that was really frustrating. Once we kind of got going in the rally, I felt ok, but I’m just happy to be here.

“It was a little windy, and I wasn’t sure which way the wind was going, but I was just like, ‘Ok, especially on the return, just get it in – anywhere!'”

The gambles paid off against the young American, but an even tougher test looms against Kuznetsova, who defeated her in straight sets just two months ago at Wimbledon.

“I don’t take much from Wimbledon, to be honest. Hardcourts are a completely different game. At this point, I’m just happy when I’m healthy, and that’s been my focus this year, just trying to get back healthy and feeling 100% body-wise. It’s been a struggle, and I feel like I’m there now, and make the most of it for the rest of the year.”

Svetlana Kuznetsova

Kuznetsova can relate to ups and downs; she calls them a career.

“Tennis players, we get affected by the press, by the people, by the parents, by the country, and by the federation. What you start to learn is to not be affected by the idea that everyone wants something from you, because I’m not a dollar. There’s no way everyone’s going to like me!

“I’ve had to get comfortable within myself, and so if you don’t like me, it’s not my problem. I’m trying to be a better person to everyone else, and a better player every day. That’s important for me, and I just leave other things behind that I cannot change. I was letting myself down because of the expectations of other people, but it’s more important for me not to let down my own expectations.

“When you start to focus on that, you get a different perspective of everything.”

It’s a perspective she’ll need to earn the winning edge in their storied head-to-head, but not one that can be earned overnight.

“It’s all about work, day by day. That’s why I said, I can’t let myself down, because if you let down after you lose, you miss a good strike of days. Days count by days and accumulate, and then you get better. It’s many days of work, and not one day, where I had a dream or something.”

Kuznetsova and Wozniacki play for a spot in the third round on Wednesday.

All photos courtesy of Getty Images.

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US Open Wednesday: Kerber Leads Day 3

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

Angelique Kerber continues her quest for No.1 as the bottom half of the draw contests its second-round matches in New York on Wednesday. We preview a busy slate at wtatennis.com.

Wednesday
First Round

[2] Angelique Kerber (GER #2) vs. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (CRO #57)
Head-to-head: Kerber leads, 3-0
Key Stat: Kerber will ascend to the No.1 ranking if Serena Williams does not reach the semifinals in New York.

Playing the No.2 seed in the first week of the US Open may seem like a daunting task, but Croatia’s Mirjana Lucic-Baroni has history on her side when it comes to this. She famously defeated Simona Halep in the third round here in 2014 and went on to reach the second week at a major for the first time in over fifteen years. It was an emotional high point of that year’s US Open and the Croatian hopes to create more magic when she meets Angelique Kerber on Day 3. But the German has been rock-solid all season, and it is hard to imagine anybody knocking her off at this stage of a draw. Kerber leads the WTA in wins, Top 10 wins and hardcourt wins this season and she was highly effective in her first-round encounter with Polona Hercog, winning all seven games before the Slovenian retired due to injury. “I played the first set really good, so this is what I will take from this match, that I’m playing my tennis,” Kerber said on Monday. “For me, it’s always tricky the first few rounds. So it’s always good to have the first round done. Just now focusing on the next rounds.” Will that focus enable her to roll past an upset-minded Lucic-Baroni, or does the Croatian have another stunner in her?

Pick: Kerber in two

[24] Belinda Bencic (SUI #26) vs. Andrea Petkovic (GER #43)
Head-to-head: Bencic leads, 1-0
Key Stat: Petkovic has failed to reach the second week at a major in her last nine appearances.

Germany’s Andrea Petkovic has not won back-to-back matches since the grass-court season and she hasn’t reached the quarterfinals in a main draw since February. But the 28-year-old can put those old worries behind her by knocking off Belinda Bencic on Wednesday. Bencic, who survived a three-setter with American Samantha Crawford on Day 1 in New York, is still in search of her game after missing a big chunk of the season due to injuries to her back and wrist. Bencic struggled to find her form against Crawford, and let her frustration show, before coming back to win in three. The former world No.7 says that in the end playing three sets was probably good for her in terms of getting match tough. “I think it’s normal after the injury to have [struggles],” she said. “I mean, in the moment I was very frustrated, but I had nothing left, just to fight and win the next two sets. That’s what I did.” She’ll have to fight much harder to eliminate the steely Petkovic. Though she has struggled to go deep at the Slams of late, Petkovic showed good form in defeating Kristina Kucova in straight sets on Day 1.

Pick: Petkovic in three

[9] Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS #10) vs. Caroline Wozniacki (DEN #74)
Head-to-head: Tied, 6-6
Key Stat: Both players have earned 30 or more wins at the US Open and reached the final twice here.

The throwback tour for Svetlana Kuznetsova continues at the US Open. In the first round she swept by fellow veteran Francesca Schiavone in their fourth meeting at a major. On Wednesday the 31-year-old Russian will look to continue her fine form when she faces Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki for the fifth time at a major. The pair have split their four major meetings but Wozniacki holds the edge on the big stage in New York. Wozniacki defeated Kuznetsova in round of 16 tilts in 2009 and 2011 at the US Open and in general the Dane has played her best tennis in New York. She reached the final in 2009 and 2014 and owns a 30-9 lifetime record in Queens. But 2004 US Open champion Kuznetsova snapped a three-match losing streak in New York on Monday and has been in much better form than Wozniacki all season. Is it the Russian’s time to make more waves in the Big Apple?

Pick: Kuznetsova in two

[3] Garbiñe Muguruza (ESP #3) vs. Anastasija Sevastova (LAT #48)
Head-to-head: First meeting
Key Stat: Muguruza is bidding to reach the US Open’s third round for the first time.

Garbiñe Muguruza stormed the tennis world when she rolled to the Roland Garros title this spring, defeating Serena Williams in the final. Now she’s trying to take baby steps in New York. Well-suited for the fast courts here at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the Spaniard has needed time to get accustomed to the hustle and bustle that characterizes the year’s final major. Muguruza says it is different to play in New York, but that she likes it. “I felt there’s more movement, more noise, more stuff,” she told reporters on Monday after her first-round win over Elise Mertens of Belgium. “But it’s well known also because of the environment and the crowd and the vibes, I don’t know, that feeling that brings New York. I think it’s also special to feel… There’s a lot of people. They’re watching you. Maybe it’s not as silent as Wimbledon, that everybody is like this, but I enjoy a lot also.” Can Muguruza silence the noise in her head so that she can stir up noise at this year’s Open? She’ll bid for her first trip to the third round on Day 3 when she faces tricky Latvian Anastasija Sevastova. The 26-year-old has been on a good ride in 2016. She has climbed from outside of the Top 100 to her current rankings perch of 48 on the strength of 17 wins and two final appearances.

Pick: Muguruza in two

Around the Grounds:
No.8 seed Madison Keys will take on the youngest player in the draw, 16-year-old American Kayla Day. In her Grand Slam debut, Day reached the second round with a win over Madison Brengle. British No.1 Johanna Konta will look to reach the third round for the second consecutive year at New York when she faces the tricky Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova. Last year’s runner-up, No.7-seeded Roberta Vinci of Italy, will square off with New Jersey Native Christina McHale.

By the Numbers:
13-4 – Keys improved her record to 13-4 in three-setters this season (career three-set record: 32-29) with her win over Alison Riske on Monday.
30-8 – Angelique Kerber’s hardcourt record this year.
2012 – The last time a player won Wimbledon and the US Open back-to-back. It has only happened four times since 1998, with Venus Williams achieving the feat twice (2000, 2001) and Serena winning it twice (2002, 2012).

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News | WTA Tennis English

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

MELBOURNE, Australia – When Serena Williams defeated Venus Williams in the final of the Australian Open, her historic victory was felt around the world. She clinched a record-breaking 23rd Grand Slam and returned to the WTA World No.1 ranking.

Here’s the best moments from Twitter as the world reacted to the 28th edition of Williams vs Williams – and Serena’ monumental victory.

It was a final nobody expected to see again – but a final that delighted the world.

Legends wished them luck…

…and the new generation felt like they were back in their childhoods.

After all the talk, it was time to play. Some people looked on with admiration and envy.

And some people had problems deciding who to cheer for.

Serena took the first set…

Everyone was enjoying the quality of tennis on display…

…and it wasn’t too long before Serena made history.

It was her sister, the runner-up, who paid the most touching tribute.

And the champion repaid the compliment.

The congratulations poured in for both champions after the historic moment of victory…

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Bacsinszky On The Olympic Experience

Bacsinszky On The Olympic Experience

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

NEW YORK, NY, USA – It has been a whirlwind few weeks for No.15 seed Timea Bacsinszky, who came away from her debut appearance at the Olympic tennis event with a silver medal in women’s doubles alongside former No.1 Martina Hingis.

Bacsinszky had planned a quiet summer that got louder – and more surreal – with each passing moment.

“I was supposed to get a week of holiday the same week of the Ladies Championship Gstaad,” she mused after a decisive win over Vitalia Diatchenko. “It was tough for me because at one point I knew it would be a tough year and I would need to rest at one point. But I chose to play Gstaad because it was home, and I was all the time complaining there were no tournaments in Switzerland. So I had to assume my status and assume everything what I said in the past, so I played it.”

A brief respite after playing at home saw her spend some time with her boyfriend – even buying a motor boat to cruise around the lake near her home – gave way to the full emotional impact of the Olympic Summer Games.

Martina Hingis, Timea Bacsinszky

Here is Bacsinszky on the Olympic experience, in her own words:

Growing up in Lausanne you have all the Olympic committees around. I practiced next to the IOC, the house of the IOC. You have the Olympic museum right there.

As a kid at school, every school of the region goes there to visit the Olympic museum least probably at least three times.

It’s a highlight in Lausanne. You have many things to do, but for tourists, it’s just amazing.

It means so much. When I was watching the Olympics, I would never ever really think that I would win a medal one day, and we did it together – against all odds.

Playing next to Martina was not an easy position. But I’m super proud of myself because I held her up sometimes during this event, as well. She was maybe less motivated at the beginning. She was like, ‘Oh, crap, I feel like everyone is letting me down, but you’re the only one who stands here with me.’ So, like, okay, let’s do it.

I really never never ever thought that I would be coming back home with a medal one day. It had really made me dream a lot when I was a kid, even though tennis is not really in history of the Olympics.

Something I thought was really amazing, was how the Olympics is not connected to anything. You get there, you get to meet people you don’t know and probably will never see them again, but while you’re in the Village you just feel respect which is like around everyone there.

Martina Hingis, Timea Bacsinzky

There’s no aggressive energy. Everyone was nice with me, and me, myself I was shining more than usual. I was laughing more because I really felt the energy of it.

It’s only two weeks in a year or three weeks in a year and that’s sad, because every competition should be like that. In tennis we say things like, ‘Oh, what are your weapons?’ Oh, come on, guys. We use weapons for war. But why do we use that in our sports vocabulary?

At the Olympics I felt like you meet an athlete, you just talk for a few minutes or you trade a pin. This is the best Olympic exchange, because otherwise people would be too shy to talk with each other.

This way, you can go to any country in the world and say, ‘Ah, Palau. Didn’t even know it existed.’ Or, ‘Tuvalu. Where is it on the world map?’

You get curious and you’re like, ‘Oh, which sport are you in? What are you doing?’ ‘Oh, I lost to her,’ or, ‘I got injured.’ Then you really feel how much it means to people. Then, you say, ‘Bye-bye, good luck, all the best for you,’ and you’re probably never going to meet him or her again.

But the human contact, the exchange, is just natural, simple, and it’s nice. And all the images that you see from the Olympics are usually full of positive emotions of sportsmanship.

Olympic Podium

As I came back on tour, you feel like sometimes the tension that people have in their eyes, even in tennis. You’re like, ‘Guys, I didn’t do anything. Calm down.’ You feel the aggressivity sometimes, which I was sincerely not feeling at the Olympics.

You go back to the Swiss house and all the other Swiss athletes, they are really 100% sincere that they are so happy for you that you got a medal, because they know how tough it is and how much you work all year long for that and how big it means to everyone.

It’s the first time in my life I really felt like 100% of sincerety out of people or other athletes, who were like, ‘Oh, wow. I saw that you won a medal. Oh, how amazing. Do you have it? Can I just see it?’

I think the world should be just like thus. Unluckily there are no Olympics every week. It wouldn’t be that special, probably. But it made me realize all of these things.

Bacsinszky plays Varvara Lepchenko in the second round of the US Open on Thursday.

All photos courtesy of Getty Images.

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