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Insider Notebook: Venus' 2020 Vision

Insider Notebook: Venus' 2020 Vision

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970
LONDON, Great Britain – Bits and bobbles from the Day 1 at Wimbledon, which went off without a hitch. Almost.

Ana Ivanovic stunned by Russian qualifier: The No.23 seed lost to No. 223 Russian qualifier Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-2, 7-5 in 70 minutes. Ivanovic told reporters after the match that she contemplated skipping Wimbledon due to wrist inflammation that got worse at the Mallorca Open.

“During the Mallorca tournament, it really got inflamed,” Ivanovic said. “Then I had couple of days off. It start to calm down a little bit. Every time I would start hitting, it would flare up. I felt like I could probably manage it. It’s tough on grass because ball really skids through. She was hitting very, very heavy. So, yeah, it was disappointing.

“For two weeks I struggled with my right wrist. It was very hard to accelerate on my forehand. I tried to do everything possible to be fit and recover and tape it and so on.”

Ivanovic will get an MRI on the wrist and does not plan to play a tournament until the Olympics.

Stosur and Lisicki set to clash: The two came through easily in their first round matches and will face off in the second round. Stosur leads the head-to-head 5-2 but she’s obviously wary of Lisicki’s ability to summon some magic at Wimbledon.

“I don’t know what she did actually in the grass court tournaments before this one, but she probably hasn’t had a fantastic year so far, but I’m sure when she walks through the gates here she probably feels like she’s No.1 in the world,” Stosur told reporters.

“You have to be aware of that and know she has a very big serve. She plays big and hits the ball hard. She absolutely plays aggressive. If she’s on that day, you have got to be really willing to fight fire with fire and go after it, and, yeah, not kind of feel like you’re going to get dictated to.

“Against someone like her with a game like she’s got, it’s very easy to feel under the pump and under pressure all the time if she’s playing well. You have to be aware of that and balance out the patience and consistency with your own aggression.”

Serena and Venus in 2020: The sisters have been peppered with questions about their doubles preparation for the Olympics. “We have to start looking at 2020,” Venus said with a laugh. “That would be impressive. If you think this year’s impressive, hold on. That would be a blessing if we did play.”

I’m not going to question it. Would you?

Madison Keys

Madison matures: Madison Keys is in the midst of her most consistently high-level span of play in her career. She’s been solid since Fed Cup in April, and she rolled through her first round match against Laura Siegemund, winning 6-3, 6-1. There’s a sense of calm about her these days.

“I think in a lot of ways I have changed,” she said. “But I also think every 18 year old changes a lot from 18 to 21 to 25. So I think on and off the court, I have changed in a lot of ways. And I think just a big thing is experience wise, it’s still only my third full year, fourth full year on tour. Obviously there is plenty of experience that I can still have.

“But just feeling more comfortable and knowing what to expect and it becoming more of a routine has really helped me. I think the maturity level of being able to handle a lot of what’s thrown at me has been a big difference.”

Garbiñe Muguruza battles to get past Camila Giorgi: Absolutely no one wants to draw the dangerous Italian in the first round of any tournament, let along on the fast grass at Wimbledon. But the No.2 seed came through in three sets by, once again, not panicking. It was a confident win for Muguruza, who came in with just one grass match under her belt, a loss to Kirsten Flipkens in Mallorca.

“Sometimes you don’t win the most beautiful way,” she said. “You got to be there fighting and waiting for your chance, especially against a player that bangs the ball. Is a very tough opponent to begin the tournament.” She plays Jana Cepelova in the second round.

Garbine Muguruza

Third time’s a charm for Daria Kasatkina: Seeded in her Wimbledon debut, the 18-year-old earned her first win ever on grass with a 6-0, 6-4 win over Victoria Duval. “My third match on grass in all my life,” Kasatkina told WTA Insider. “The first was at Wimbledon 2012. It was so bad. Now I’m professional, I come on grass, I can say I like it.”

Primarily known as a clay-courter, Kasatkina said with a few minor adjustments she’s feeling comfortable on grass. “The first few practices were really, really terrible. Better not to see this,” she said laughing.

“Because I was trying to change my game because I thought it was totally different tennis. But my coach told me no, you don’t have to change so much. Just little bit adapt for grass tennis. Just go for the volley or something like this. And it’s a little bit more difficult to move. It’s a little bit slippery and you have to move like a cat. Soft steps. But we worked a lot in fitness for this, so I adapt to that.”

Kasatkina admits she was tired through much of the clay court swing but feels refreshed on the grass. “In Madrid I was finished because it was so complicated calendar,” she said. “America, Fed Cup, then immediately I go to clay court preparation. It was too much for me. After Roland Garros I had a few days off and I came to the grass more fresh.”

As for qualifying for the Russian Olympic Team, the young Russian is over the moon. “If last year somebody told me I would go to the Olympics I would tell him you are a crazy man.”

Maria Sakkari

Maria Sakkari on the verge of the Top 100: Sakkari scored a good win over Zheng Saisai, winning 6-3, 6-2 for her first win at Wimbledon. In fact, the first time she ever played on grass was last week in qualies at Roehampton. “I never practiced on grass, I never played juniors on grass,” she told WTA Insider. “I just practiced twice before my first match. It’s fine. I like it. It’s different. But if you take care of your steps and your running and think about it more in the beginning then it’s fine.”

Asked whether her mother, who played on tour, gave her any advice about the grass, Sakkari said she kept it simple. “My mom never liked grass,” she said. “She played once or twice at Wimbledon. She told me not to try too many things. Don’t try to hit too hard. Just play tennis.”

Crawford earns her first Slam win: After a blistering start to the season, making the semifinals of the Brisbane International as a qualifier, Samantha Crawford finally earned her first main draw win at a Slam, beating Paula Kania, 7-5, 6-3 at Wimbledon. The win was especially sweet given Crawford had played just one match since breaking her hand in a fall at the Volvo Car Open in April. Crawford fractured the scaphoid bone in her right hand and was in a cast for six weeks, but was able to come back at the French Open last month.

“Before it happens it’s in the back of everyone’s mind,” Crawford said, when asked about getting her first Slam win. This was just her third match on grass ever. “This is my fifth Slam main draw. I was aware that I hadn’t won. I got a little nervous but I told myself to enjoy the moment being at Wimbledon.”

Laura Robson, Angelique Kerber

Questions that need to stop: I think it’s time to put a moratorium on asking players why they don’t have a pep in their step during press conferences.

Q. You seem quite down.
LAURA ROBSON: I seem quite down? Probably because I lost. It tends to do it.

Robson lost 6-2, 6-2 to Angelique Kerber, but will still be around Wimbledon for doubles with Ashleigh Barty. She will head to the US afterwards to play on the ITF Circuit to get her ranking up.

“For me, it’s a massive win to be here and not have any niggles for quite a few months now, apart from a very small one in Eastbourne,” she said. “I’ve worked very, very hard to be healthy, to be completely fit on court. It’s 100% a huge goal for me to finish the year in the same way. Yeah, it’s now about winning matches, as well.”

To Infinity, and Beyond: How’s this from Venus Williams:

Q. Looking back to 26, would you have thought that you would still be engaged at 36?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I still feel 26, so… You know, I don’t think anyone feels older. You have this infinity inside of you that feels like you could go forever. That’s how I feel on the court. As long as I’m halfway decent, can get my racquet on the ball, I think I can make something happen. So far so good.

All photos courtesy of Getty Images.

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Serena Survives Inspired McHale

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

Defending champion Serena Williams showed off her signature grit to dispatch in-form countrywoman Christina McHale in three grueling sets to reach the third round of Wimbledon.

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Halep Hurries Into Last 16

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

LONDON, Great Britain – No.5 seed Simona Halep sealed her passage into the final 16 at Wimbledon with a commanding straight sets victory over the No.26 seed Kiki Bertens, advancing 6-4, 6-3 under the roof of Centre Court on Saturday.

Halep grabbed an early spot into the fourth round at a Wimbledon still plagued with rain delays, which have left even some second round matches still up in the air and forced the almost-unprecedented choice to schedule play on Middle Sunday.

The Romanian has stayed cool throughout the bad weather, though, and has yet to drop a set at the All-England Club. Bertens, her opponent, came into the matchup having won the last 12 of 13 matches – including a run to the French Open semifinals – and amassing a lot of confidence along the way.

The heavier conditions under the roof seemed to favor the Dutchwoman, and she opened the match with a break. Halep quickly restored parity in the next game,

Bertens found herself having to hit one extra ball more often than she wanted to as the diminutive Halep covered the court line to line. Halep dug up a forehand that landed behind her to a wrong-footed Bertens who could do little more than hack at it as she was broken once again for 4-2.

The No.5 seed finally took the first set as Bertens’ first serves seem to abandon her and Halep unleashed some of her biggest forehands of the match.

After the five breaks of serve in the first set, the second went much more smoothly for the World No.5 as she broke once on Bertens’ opening service game to build up an assertive 3-0 lead.

Bertens held her nerve to force the No.5 seed to keep herself in it and serve it out at 5-3 and even held a break point after a HawkEye challenge went her way, but a pair of commanding points won on Halep’s forehand dashed Bertens’ hopes of forcing a decider.

The Romanian will get a day’s rest tomorrow before she’s set to face the winner between Alizé Cornet and Madison Keys.

More to come…

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News | WTA Tennis English

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

ACAPULCO, Mexico – No.2 seed Kristina Mladenovic needed three sets and over three and a half hours but she’s through to the quarterfinals at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel after a marathon battle against Heather Watson, 7-6(4), 6-7(5), 7-5.

The epic, three-hour-and-thirty-two minute encounter clocks in as the longest WTA match of the season so far; only Svetlana Kuznetsova and Jelena Jankovic’s Australian Open battle was longer at three hours and thirty-six minutes.

“Oh my god, what can I even say,” an exhausted Mladenovic told wtatennis.com after the match. “The conditions here were very difficult – the humidity is ridiculous and I think we both struggled physically.”

The blistering conditions in southern Mexico were heating up even more on Grandstand Caliente, with Mladenovic employing her doubles prowess to attack at the net and Heather staying solid from the baseline. The Frenchwoman struggled with her throughout the match, racking up nine double faults in the first set alone – she would hit 20 in total.

There were several twists and turns as both players struggled to establish momentum; Watson started off with a strong trio of breaks to give herself a 4-1 lead, before Mladenovic reeled off four games in a row to rip it away. Mladenovic edged through in the tiebreak, winning four points on the bounce from 4-4 to take the opening set.

The pair traded breaks twice in the second set, with Watson holding her nerve to break back each time as Mladenovic continued to apply all-court pressure, but the Brit relied on her down-the-line backhands to see her through in the second tiebreak.

Watson showed her grit to bat away two of Mladenovic’ match points at 5-3 in the third with a stinging, crosscourt backhand, before another double fault from the Frenchwomen gave her the break back. After managing to level the score at 5-5, Watson seemed to run out of steam, winning just three points in the next two games as Mladenovic closed out the match.

Despite Watson’s 59 winners to 29 unforced errors against Mladenovic’s 22 and 23, it was Mladenovic who proved more solid in the big moments, creating and converting more break opportunities.

“These kind of matches, I’m not really satisfied with the way I played – I’m not sure it was really the best quality tennis – but I’m actually very satisfied with the fighting,” Mladenovic explained.

“We both of us, we never gave up. It was up and down; I was down big time in the first set and I came back and won it. I also had match points in the end and she saved them, actually beautifully, and she came back.

“That was just grit. A mental battle. I’m just satisfied and proud to pull this one through.”

Mladenovic will be right back on Grandstand Caliente tomorrow to take on Kirsten Flipkens for a spot in the Acapulco semifinals. The Belgian advanced after Ajla Tomljanovic was forced to retire from their match due to a right shoulder injury.

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