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News | WTA Tennis English

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA – No.6 seed Martina Hingis and Chan Yung-Jan are becoming one of the new teams to beat in 2017, roaring into their second final in just three events since pairing up in the Middle East, outlasting top seeds Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova, 7-6(7), 7-5 at the BNP Paribas Open.

“This is a big win for us at a huge event,” Chan said after the match. “I’m happy we’re in the final because it was a really close match against the best team in the tournament. It’s good for our confidence to win this match. The key was our ability to put everything together when we had to. We stayed strong together as a team, even in the tie-break and on deciding points.”

Hingis and Chan, who often goes by her English name, Latisha, reached their first final at the Qatar Total Open, and have been equally impressive in the California desert, ousting No.4 seed Sania Mirza and Barbora Strycova en route to the final four.

“Lucie and Bethanie are the No.1 team, and not for no reason,” Hingis said. “They’ve had a great couple of years and know each other so well. I played them twice a couple years ago and was unsuccessful, so it was nice to go out there with Latisha and see how we’d end up. It’s only our third tournament, so I’m definitely pleased with this win.”

Mattek-Sands and Safarova had been forced to a match tie-break against another new team in Kristina Mladenovic and Svetlana Kuznetsova, but the Australian Open champions couldn’t find the extra magic on Thursday as their eight-match winning streak came to a close in the searing heat.

“It was hot all week! We tried not to have a dip, but at a set and 4-1, we were in the middle of an emotional mindgame with the nerves. Everything was involved, but it was great for the crowd to see a match like that; it was doubles at a very high level, and even if it had gone the other way, we couldn’t have been disappointed losing to one of the best teams out there.”

Once rivals, now partners, Hingis and Chan feel they’ve grown by leaps and bounds since their first tournament together, and are pleasantly surprised with how quickly their bond has grown in the last four weeks.

“At the beginning, we were both excited when we decided to play together, but we didn’t know each other that well beyond playing against each other,” Chan said. “We had to build the trust between us. After the tournaments in the Middle East, we built up a greater relationship between the two of us.”

Standing between them and their first title as a team will be the winner of the second semfinal between Czech stars Lucie Hradecka and Katerina Siniakova and No.2 seeds, Olympic Gold medalists Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina.

“I played Siniakova and Hradecka at the Taiwan Open with [my sister] Angel in the final. We know Lucie very well, and Siniakova is a young gun playing well. Whoever wins, we’ll have to step in and be aggressive”

“Vesnina and Makarova are another top team; I’ve played them a lot as well, and always great matches like the finals of Wimbledon and the Olympics,” Hingis added. “These are the matches you look forward to because the last couple matches have shown where women’s doubles is at and I’m proud to say I’m part of it.

“Either way we’re trying to go for the title!”

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Kerber Set For Wuhan Return, Year-End No.1 On The Line

Kerber Set For Wuhan Return, Year-End No.1 On The Line

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

Angelique Kerber was assured of the No.1 ranking by reaching the US Open semifinal, but the German has been off the tour in the two weeks since officially ascending to the top of the WTA rankings.

“I’m feeling much more comfortable in my skin, how I am, and how to work,” Kerber said in the latest WTA Insider Podcast. “It’s because of the experience; I now know how to deal with the pressure, with things I have to do off-court.”

Kerber got to celebrate her No.1 breakthrough alongside her US Open victory, taking part in a pair of photoshoots with each trophy commemorating her dual achievements. 

“This gives me a lot of confidence to dress up, come out, speaking, working, being how I am! It took a little while to get there, but it was great work getting there.”

Angelique Kerber

The first of two women to qualify for the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global – alongside 22-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams – Kerber kicks off her Asian Swing as the top seed at the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open. The World No.1 has played Wuhan since its inaugural event in 2014, reaching the semiifnals last year.

Kerber leads the field with 54 match wins this year, and will be in search of her fourth title of the season. Taking home three titles thus far, two have been on the game’s biggest stages at the Australian Open and US Open, while the third came at home at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart.

Success at the Grand Slams and consistency elsewhere is what helped Kerber end Serena’s 186 straight weeks at No.1; the first German No.1 since Stefanie Graf – and the first lefty since WTA Finals Tournament Ambassador Monica Seles – Kerber has reached the quarterfinals or better in six of her last seven tournaments, finishing runner-up at Wimbledon, the Western & Southern Open, and the Olympic tennis event (earning no ranking points at the latter).

Now that she’s earned the No.1 ranking, the question becomes how long Kerber can keep it. Williams announced her withdrawal from Wuhan and Beijing, meaning her rival needs to earn 1500 points to assure herself of the Year-End No.1. 

“My motivation is still really high, especially after this title in New York. I will still try to improve my game because I know I could still improve my serve and a few other things in my game. It’s what I plan to do in the next in the next few weeks and in my pre-season for next year. There are still a few things where I know I can be better, and that gives me confidence too, to know I can still play better, more aggressively, or move better.

With a total of 900 points awarded to the winner at Wuhan and another 1,000 next week in Beijing, she could go a long way towards accomplishing that goal before even heading to Singapore – potentially locking down the Year-End No.1 ranking with a good two weeks on Chinese soil.

Angelique Kerber

“Angie won’t stop wanting to get better,” said Torben Beltz, Kerber’s longtime coach who reunited with her just before her rise towards the top of the game last spring. “She doesn’t just want to practice for an hour and that’s it’ she wants to get better, and even have some input in the practice. She wants to get better, hit harder; these are things she wants to do, and we’ll work on that together.”

Kerber would join a select group of 11 women to have finished the year as No.1, and become the 12th to do so. Serena has earned the distinction five times (2002, 2009, 2013-2015), the third-most in WTA history behind Graf at eight (1987-1990, 1993-1996), and Martina Navratilova at seven (1978-1979, 1982-1986). Kerber would be the first woman not named Serena to finish the year No.1 since Victoria Azarenka, who ended her only season as leader of the pack in 2012.

It’s already been a year to remember for Angelique Kerber, but it’s not over yet, and the sky seems to remain the limit for the new No.1.

“Of course, I’m playing the best tennis of my career, but I’m still trying to be better and better,” Kerber said. “That’s what motivates me during my practices and matches. I still hope to play my best tennis over the next few months.”

 WTA Finals: Get Your Tickets!

All photos courtesy of Getty Images.

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News | WTA Tennis English

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

Are you ready for prime time? It’s semifinal Friday at the 2017 BNP Paribas Open and we’re previewing both matchups right here at WTATennis.com

Friday

Semifinals

[14] Elena Vesnina (RUS #15) vs. [28] Kristina Mladenovic (FRA #26)
Head-to-head: Vesnina leads, 2-0
Key Stat: Two Russians have reached the semifinals at the BNP Paribas Open for the first time since 2013.

Two former Grand Slam doubles champions will battle it out on the singles court on Friday for the right to reach their first ever Premier Mandatory final when Kristina Mladenovic and Elena Vesnina lock horns for the third time. Mladenovic edged Caroline Wozniacki in three sets in the quarters on Thursday, ending a three-match losing streak against the Dane and assuring herself of a spot in the Top 20 next week, but the Frenchwoman would like to prolong her stay in Southern California a few days longer. “Every day I go out there on the court, in the gym practicing, it’s for moment like that,” she said after defeating Wozniacki for the first time. “So I’m not getting too excited. I’m just super satisfied that I am on these kind of stages right now and trying to use my chances.”

Vesnina fought past Venus Williams on Thursday to secure her spot in the semifinals. The Russian is a three-time major champion on the doubles court but is just now starting to blossom in singles. She reached the Wimbledon semifinals last year and could climb to a career-high ranking of No.13 in the world with a title at Indian Wells. But the veteran knows that she’ll have her hands full with Mladenovic. “Definitely she’s having a great season,” Vesnina said of the Frenchwoman. “It’s going to be tough match. She’s an upcoming player. We played couple of times, but two, three years ago, and totally different story now.”

Will it be the Russian who flies into the final, or can Mladenovic upend her and keep her hopes of becoming the first Frenchwoman to win the BNP Paribas Open title alive?

Pick: Vesnina in three

[3] Karolina Pliskova (CZE #3) vs. [8] Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS #8)
Head-to-head: Tied, 1-1
Key Stat: Both of the pair’s previous meetings have gone three sets.

Never mind the shy demeanor. Karolina Pliskova is very much a tennis player en vogue right now. She’s a rising star that possesses an electrifying game and has been tabbed by pundits as likely to become one of the game’s dominant forces for many years to come. On Friday the menacing Czech will square off against a player who has been there, done that and is now experiencing an inspiring renaissance. Two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova is back at the top of the game after six years outside of the Top 10, and she is relishing the experience of reaching the BNP Paribas Open semifinals for the first time since 2008. “If I look back, for sure, it was very long time ago,” she said of her last deep run at Indian Wells on Wednesday after taking out compatriot Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. “So it’s great. I’m enjoying it much more now, because now I know the value of this.”

This intriguing match-up of resurgent veteran and blossoming star will be a bit of a chess match between two stylistically opposite players. Kuznetsova will hope to use variety and get her opponent the move while Pliskova knows she’ll need to dictate, shorten points, and be decisive from the baseline. “We had two matches, two times, three-setters, and two times was really tough,” Pliskova said of her previous encounters with the Russian. “I have to play well. I just keep the same game plan and have to be aggressive… And don’t let her play, otherwise she’s going to let me run. That’s what she probably wants me to do.”

Pick: Pliskova in three

By the Numbers:

1 – Mladenovic is the only semifinalist that has yet to win multiple WTA titles.

20 – By reaching the semifinals Mladenovic has assured herself a spot inside the Top 20 when next week’s rankings are released.

19-2 – Karolina Pliskova’s record in 2017. The Czech is bidding to become the WTA’s first 20-match winner today.

27 – Number of career wins Svetlana Kuznetsova has achieved at Indian Wells. The Russian is now tied for sixth all-time with Martin Hingis.

2011 – The only year a Frenchwoman has reached the final at Indian Wells. Marion Bartoli lost to Caroline Wozniacki in three sets.

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News | WTA Tennis English

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA – Elena Vesnina may have been victorious in the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open – but she immediately took the time to pay tribute to her defeated opponent, Venus Williams.

“This win today against Venus really means a lot for me,” said the delighted Russian. “It’s never easy to play against her. She’s a great champion and always fighting till the end.”

Vesnina praised the seven-time Grand Slam winner’s dedication to tennis – and admired her love for the sport.

“She’s a great example of how you can love tennis,” she said. “You know, for so many years, she brings so much passion and love to this game. She’s coming and giving everything, you know. She’s always fighting, always enjoying, smiling. You know, you can see she’s, like, little girl on the court, actually, enjoying more than half of the WTA Tour. And we have to learn from her, you know, how she’s appreciating what she’s doing.

“I think maybe it came to her maybe kind of few years ago. Maybe when she was young she was a bit different, but now she’s totally enjoying herself and she’s, like, inspiring everybody around her, you know, her and Serena, as well. Because really what they bring to the tennis, to the woman’s tennis, is just amazing.”

The 30-year-old had taken a 3-0 lead against the American in the first set – and then suddenly found herself under pressure.

“She was missing some easy shots, she looked tired and slow on the court,” Vesnina recalled. “Then, all of a sudden, she started moving around, hitting great shots, winners from all over the place.

“And in this momentum, I kind of lost my rhythm, because I didn’t know what to expect. I played against Venus, I don’t know, four times. I kind of knew the way she’s playing, hitting, serving, and today was totally different story. Today she was playing totally different tactic match.

“Yeah, so it was not easy. When she won the second set, I was, like, I saw previous matches that she was down with match point with a set point, and I was like, ‘Uh-oh, it’s coming back again. I’m going to be another victim of Venus. I don’t want. I want to win this. I want this match.'”

So Vesnina battled back in the decider, revealing that she was pleased with the reserves of courage she drew upon to take the match 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 – particularly because she was 0-40 down in the final game.

“I was actually very proud of myself, how I held my nerve. I was love-40 down, but, like, I didn’t even think about that it’s love-40. It was point by point, trying to create a good rally, trying to move her around.

“It was difficult a little bit for me. I was struggling with the first-serve percentage in the end of the third set, so it was really important with me. I start[ed] serving with a little bit less power, and a bit more pace.

“[A] couple of kind of big points she gave me unforced error, and I stick to this game. You know, I was, like, I [am] never gonna lose this game. I was really fighting like it’s the last game of my life.”

In the semifinals, Vesnina will face Kristina Mladenovic – a rival who offers a fresh range of challenges.

“I need to think how I need to play against her, because I have couple of thoughts on my mind,” she mused. “She’s a great doubles player, as well. You know, so she’s kind of player on all the court, you know. She can come into the net. She’s using the dropshots, slices. So it’s going to be difficult match – but on the other hand, it’s very exciting to play the semifinal match here in Indian Wells.”

 

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