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Svitolina Ends Ivanovic Hoodoo

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

At the eighth time of asking, Elina Svitolina finally got the better of Ana Ivanovic, winning their third-round encounter at Roland Garros in straight sets.

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Insider Podcast: Rainy Day Recap

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

PARIS, France – WTA Insider Senior Writer Courtney Nguyen and Web Editor David Kane reconvene on a rainy second Monday at the French Open to assess a first week free of the dramatic upsets and draw-changing results to which fans have become accustomed.

How has World No.1 Serena Williams fared as she began her quest for her record-tying 22nd Grand Slam title?

Plus, an analysis of the noteworthy but ultimately unsurprising early exits of No.3 seed Angelique Kerber and No.5 seed Victoria Azarenka, No.8 seed Timea Bacsinszky’s continued consistency on clay, unseeded Shelby Rogers’ role as the fortnight’s Cinderella story, and who will be most affected by the postponed round of 16 encounters involving No.2 seed Agnieszka Radwanska and No.6 seed Simona Halep.

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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Mauresmo Receives Hall Of Fame Ring

Mauresmo Receives Hall Of Fame Ring

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

PARIS, France – To describe Amélie Mauresmo as a late bloomer isn’t quite right. She was a two-time junior champion as a teenager, winning the girls’ titles at Roland Garros and Wimbledon. Her all-court game, played with that typical Gallic flourish, were evidence of a preternatural talent and tennis IQ that outmatched her young years.

And yet, when the now 37-year-old Hall of Famer looks back on her legacy, one word seems to define it: Persistence.

“When I was 20 or 22, I thought maybe I could achieve No.1 and win these big trophies,” Mauresmo told WTA Insider at Roland Garros. “But as a little girl I never really expected that. It was a passion. I was lucky to have a gift in that sport. It really brought me everything in my life. But I never really expected that. You can’t, really.”

Last year, Mauresmo was inducted in the International Tennis Hall of Fame. The two-time major champion and former No.1 was pregnant with her first child last summer and was unable to attend the induction ceremony. But she will make up for lost time this summer, when she makes her way to Newport, Rhode Island for her formal induction, alongside this year’s class of inductees, which includes her long-time rival Justine Henin and Marat Safin.

Amelie Mauresmo

On Saturday, before the women’s final at Roland Garros, she accepted her Hall of Fame ring in a ceremony on Court Philippe Chatrier. Mauresmo finished her career with 25 WTA singles titles, spent 39 weeks at No.1, and was ranked in the Top 5 for 191 weeks. She represented her country impeccably in international competition as well. She is the winningest player for France in Fed Cup competition, compiling a 30-9 record, and won a silver medal at the 2004 Olympics. The soft-spoken Frenchwoman admitted it has taken her time to process her Hall of Fame status.

“In France we don’t really have this celebration of former players and accomplishments,” she said. “So at first I needed time to really process what it was, and the people in there, and all the previous inductees. Then I started to really – ‘whoa’ – felt honored and proud to be part of this group.

“The former players that are celebrated there are incredible. To be a part of this group is incredible. I never thought I would achieve this.”

Born in Saint-Germain-En-Laye, which also happens to be Caroline Garcia’s hometown, Mauresmo became the 1st Frenchwoman to reach No.1 in 2004. Though she made her first major final in 1999 at the Australian Open, it took her seven years before she finally broke through to win her first major title, winning the Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2006. She retired three years later in 2009.

“I don’t know if they are going to see someone who really changed the game,” Mauresmo said, when asked about her legacy in the game. “Maybe [they will see someone who] not change the game but bringing something different to the game. Someone with generosity and emotions and was trying to carry these things around. And perseverance is a very important word in my career. It took me time.”

Amelie Mauresmo

When asked whether she was conscious of building a legacy during her career, Mauresmo said no. It’s something she regrets.

“Once I stopped I was less selfish in a way,” she said. “I saw it it in a different way, I stepped back and saw how important it would have been to already, while I was still in my career, maybe bring the young ones with me. I did some things but looking back I think I could have done more.”

“I think taking over the Fed Cup captaincy, helping Andy (Murray), talking to players, now I feel like I do it a lot more. And if you don’t do it, it’s kind of wasted. Everything you learned in your career, everything you learned maybe the hard way, you try to give it to others. Sometimes they listen, sometimes they don’t. It’s not easy, but you try.”

“I’m happy with everything I’ve done. I’m happy with the choices that I made after I stopped my career. That to me is the most important.”

All photos courtesy of Getty Images.

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Zheng Zips By Konta In Notts

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

NOTTINGHAM, Great Britain – Zheng Saisai had never beaten Johanna Konta in their two previous encounters, but turned around a losing head-to-head to stun the No.2 seed and hometown favorite, 6-4, 7-5, to advance into the quarterfinals of the Aegon Open Nottingham.

Konta last played Zheng in the second round of this year’s Australian Open, where she became the first British woman to reach a Grand Slam semifinal since 1983. Now ranked inside the Top 20 for the first time in decades, the Brit eased out to an early 2-0 lead, only to see her Chinese opposition walk away with six of the next eight games, breaking serve twice to take the opening set in 45 minutes.

The second set was an even more hotly contested affair, one in which Konta again lead by a break at 4-2, getting within six points of a decider. Zheng broke back, however, and served out a titanic final game that forced her to face three break points to earn her spot in the last eight in just over two hours.

Up next for Zheng is either Andrea Hlavackova or Ashleigh Barty, the young Aussie playing in her first WTA tournament since 2014.

More to come…

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WTA Player Of The Month: Muguruza

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

Two years after stunning World No.1 Serena Williams in the second round of the French Open, Garbiñe Muguruza enjoyed a full circle moment on the terre battue in 2016, defeating Williams once again to capture her maiden major title.

“I’m pretty shocked still,” the Spaniard said in her post-match press conference. “Pretty excited about what just happened. I think I’ve got to take my time and enjoy, because with tennis players it goes so fast.

“You have to right away think about another tournament. I want to enjoy.”

Muguruza was the first Spanish woman to reach the Roland Garros final since 2000 (Conchita Martinez); with her win over Williams, she became the first Spaniard to win a Grand Slam title since Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario in 1998, and the first two rise into the Top 2 on the WTA rankings since December of 1996.

Racing out to a set and a break advantage, Muguruza had four championship points on Serena’s serve before ultimately serving out the victory one game later.

“It was very difficult to see you have four match points and doesn’t go your way. But it’s a final. There’s no room for being disappointed or for excuses.

“I still had another chance serving, and even after. I just tried to be calm even though inside, I was like, ‘Oh, there’s no way.’ I managed to be calm and just think about what I have to do every point, you know, and don’t think about match point or championship point.”

With her first Grand Slam title already under her belt, the 2015 Wimbledon finalist will certainly be one to watch as the tour turns to grass, and as May’s WTA Player Of The Month!

Final Results for May’s WTA Player Of The Month

1. Garbiñe Muguruza (70%)
2. Simona Halep (20%)
3. Serena Williams (10%)

2016 WTA Player of the Month Winners

January: Angelique Kerber
February: Carla Suárez Navarro
March: Victoria Azarenka
April: Angelique Kerber


How it works:

Finalists are selected by wtatennis.com
Winner is then determined by a fan vote on wtatennis.com
 

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Watson Wins In Birmingham Opener

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

BIRMINGHAM, Great Britain – Britain’s Heather Watson notched her first win in Birmingham in two years, downing Camila Giorgi 6-4, 7-5 to advance to the second round at the Aegon Classic Birmingham.

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

Watson played a neat and tidy game against the tricky Giorgi, striking 23 winners and seven unforced errors to the Italian’s 24 winners and 29 unforced errors.

The Brit found herself break points down in the second and fifth games of the second set, but rallied each time to come up with a way to stay in it.

“Today, the opponent I played is a real tricky one,” Watson said. “She doesn’t give you any rhythm. She’ll hit a lot of winners, but she’ll make some mistakes as well. So it’s tough.

“I was just really pleased with how positive I was, especially in the second set when I was breakpoints down. I thought those games in the end turned out to be very crucial.”

Her first-round win here overturns a spell of disappointing results at the Aegon Classic Birmingham – she’s bowed out in the first round in her last two appearances.

“I just love it here in Birmingham,” the Brit told the crowd after her match. “I haven’t had the results I’ve wanted here in the past, but I was really motivated this year to do well here because I really do enjoy it.

“I have family who live close by in Coventry, so I really feel like it’s a second home.”

Joining her in the second round is Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko. The 18-year-old defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-6(2) 6-1 earlier in the day.

Watson and Giorgi’s match just barely missed the rain that had been threatening to come down all afternoon, leaving the clashes between Daria Gavrilova versus Naomi Broady and Carla Suárez Navarro versus Elina Svitolina postponed until tomorrow.

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Roland Garros Serve Speed Leaders

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

Clay court tennis is commonly associated with drawn-out baseline battles, but at Roland Garros the WTA’s big servers were doing their best to keep these to a minimum.

Unsurprisingly, Serena Williams led the way in terms of both aces and service speed. Her fastest of the fortnight was clocked at 121.8mph – a figure matched by one of the game’s stars in waiting, Naomi Osaka. They were not the only ones notching noteworthy numbers, either; Océane Dodin, Madison Keys and Danka Kovinic all threatening the 120mph mark.

Roland Garros
1. Serena Williams – 121.8mph / 196.0kph
1T. Naomi Osaka – 121.8mph / 196.2kph
3. Océane Dodin – 119.9mph / 193.0kph
4T. Madison Keys – 119.3mph / 192.0kph
4T. Danka Kovinic – 119.3mph / 192.0kph

2016
1. Serena Williams – 127.0mph / 204.4kph (Indian Wells)
2T. Lucie Hradecka – 123.0mph / 197.9kph (Indian Wells)
2T. Venus Williams – 123.0mph / 197.9kph (Miami)
4. Timea Babos – 122.0mph / 196.3kph (Indian Wells)
5. Naomi Osaka – 121.8mph / 196.2kph (Roland Garros)
6. CoCo Vandeweghe – 121.mph / 194.7kph (Indian Wells)
7T. Madison Keys – 119.9mph / 193.0kph (Australian Open)
7T. Océane Dodin – 119.9mph / 193.0kph (Roland Garros)
7T. Polona Hercog – 119.9mph / 193.0kph (Australian Open)
10. Danka Kovinic – 119.3mph / 192.0kph (Roland Garros)

All-Time
1. Sabine Lisicki – 131.0mph / 210.8kph (2014 Stanford)
2. Venus Williams – 129.0mph / 207.6kph (2007 US Open)
3. Serena Williams – 128.6mph / 207.0kph (2013 Australian Open)
4. Julia Goerges – 126.1mph / 203.0kph (2012 French Open)
5. Brenda Schultz-McCarthy – 126.0mph / 202.7kph (2007 Indian Wells)
6. Nadiia Kichenok – 125.5mph / 202.0kph (2014 Australian Open)
7. Lucie Hradecka – 125.0mph / 201.2kph (2015 Wimbledon)
8. Anna-Lena Groenefeld – 125.0mph / 201.1kph (2009 Indian Wells)
9T. Ana Ivanovic – 124.9mph / 201.0kph (2007 French Open)
9T. Denisa Allertova – 124.9mph / 201.0kph (2015 Australian Open)

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Bouchard & Jankovic Battle Through

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

MALLORCA, Spain – Eugenie Bouchard and Jelena Jankovic both overcame sluggish starts to get their Mallorca Open campaigns off to a winning start and advancing to the second round.

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

The inaugural International event, staged right on the Mediterranean coast in Santa Ponsa, looks just as much like a relaxing getaway as it does a WTA event, and quite the opposite of a typical grass court tournament.

“It’s different, to have a tour spot in a vacation spot here like this,” No.8 seed Bouchard said.

“It’s hot over here, we’re not used to that when we play on grass, it’s usually cold rainy countries so this is a refreshing change.”

Bouchard raced through the opening set against Danka Kovinic, but had trouble keeping up the intensity in the second as the Montenegrin player climbed to a 5-2 lead. Bouchard reeled off the next five straight games to defeat her 6-3, 7-5 and book a spot in the second round.

“I think I played pretty solid,” Bouchard assessed after the match. “On my part I thought I had some big weapons. She had a big serve and can hit big shots so I felt like I stayed with her when I needed to, but I kept fighting even though I was down in that second set.”

No.2 seed Jankovic had a similar struggle against Ana Konjuh, but in reverse: after a tense, lengthy struggle in the first set against the Croatian, Jankovic found her range and snapped up the second set, 7-5, 6-3.

“I had a slow start and my opponent was playing very well,” Jankovic said. “She was hitting strong and I was reacting very slow.

“I wasn’t really able to play my game but slowly, little by little, I started to get in my rhythm. I felt more comfortable on the court and I think she just couldn’t follow.”

While these two seeds advanced, another two went tumbling out as Sabine Lisicki dealt an upset to the No.4 seeded Kristina Mladenovic, 6-4, 6-4, and qualifier Sorana Cirstea knocked out No.5 seed Yulia Putintseva 6-3, 6-2.

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