Tennis News

From around the world

Cincinnati Saturday: SF Showdown

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

CINCINNATI, OH, USA – Angelique Kerber is gunning for the No.1 ranking in Cincinnati, but the German isn’t the only one with designs on the Western and Southern Open title. Chris Oddo previews Saturday’s semifinals right here at

Saturday, Semifinals

Center Court
[4] Garbiñe Muguruza (ESP #3) vs. [15] Karolina Pliskova (CZE #17)
Pliskova leads, 2-1

Key Stat: Pliskova leads all players in the ace category in 2016 with 394 through her first three rounds in Cincinnati.
Karolina Pliskova had the upper hand on Garbiñe Muguruza when they met head-to-head in 2015, defeating her in Dubai and then again a month later at Indian Wells, but it is Muguruza who has proven to be more comfortable on the big stage since the pair last met. The Spaniard is a Grand Slam winner and a Top 5 player now, while Pliskova has still to reach the second week of a major. But don’t be fooled by the Czech’s lack of Slam success. The 24-year-old is progressing steadily and it’s just a matter of time before she has her day in the sun. Will it be Saturday? Pliskova will need to serve effectively to win for the third consecutive time against Muguruza, and she knows she’ll have to make more first serves than she did on Friday in her quarterfinal win over Svetlana Kuznetsova. She only managed a 44% first-serve percentage in her three-set win over the Russian, but was pleased to earn her second Top 10 win of the year nonetheless. “I can serve big in the important moments which is good, but I have to get high with the percentage,” Pliskova said. “Still happy with the serve. I think it’s still winning the matches for me, so still the biggest weapon.” Speaking of weapons, the powerful Muguruza is not lacking in that department. She knows she’ll have to use her full arsenal to change her fortunes against the dangerous Pliskova. “She’s playing well,” Muguruza said on Friday after defeating Timea Babos in the quarterfinals. “I think this surface helps her a little bit with her style of game.” Muguruza has been focused and in the zone all week, and it has shown on the scoreboard. She’ll take a confident air with her on the court and let the chips fall where they may. “I’m satisfied the way I’m fighting and my spirit and energy on the court, so hopefully I can keep this until the US Open,” she said.

Pick: Muguruza in two

[2] Angelique Kerber (GER #2) vs. [3] Simona Halep (ROU #4)
Halep leads, 4-2

Key Stat: Kerber could ascend to the No. 1 ranking for the first time with the title in Cincinnati.
Two steps from a career-changing milestone, Angelique Kerber continues to wear the blinders and deflect all pressure about climbing to the top of the WTA rankings. “I’m not feeling more pressure, to be honest,” she said after coming back from a set down to defeat Carla Suárez Navarro in the sweltering Cincinnati heat on Friday. “I learned a lot from last tournaments and last matches about pressure, and when I put the pressure too much on myself, I mean, that’s not the way I would like to play my tennis.” Though Kerber struggled early against the Spaniard, she drew upon a reservoir of confidence and found her second wind to win on Friday. It’s been a recurring theme for the German, and as the wins pile up, the confidence grows. “I knew I’m really fit and I worked a lot in the last few months and years to go out and try to play matches like that,” she said. “Of course when you win the matches you have much more confidence and you can do it and turn around matches and go for three sets after you lose the first one. That gives me for sure more confidence also for the next challenges.” The challenge will be a big one on Saturday, as Kerber will square off with the scorching-hot Simona Halep. The Romanian notched her 13th consecutive win on Friday night, taking down Agnieszka Radwanska in straight sets, and she is playing her best tennis of the season at the moment. Like Kerber, Halep fell behind early but stormed to the finish, taking 13 of the final 15 games from Radwanska. Will Halep be able to continue her run and rain on Kerber’s parade in Cincinnati, or will the German edge ever closer to a colossal milestone?

Pick: Halep in three

By the numbers…
– Number of singles semifinalists still alive in the doubles draw (Pliskova and partner Julia Goerges face Martina Hingis and CoCo Vandeweghe).
20-2 – Halep’s record since the start of Roland Garros this year.
46 – Kerber’s 2016 win total – more than any other player on tour.
183 – Number of consecutive weeks that Serena Williams has held the No. 1 ranking, which is second-most all time behind Graf (186).

Source link

By The Numbers: Battle For No.1

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

CINCINNATI, OH, USA – At the beginning of January few would have pegged Angelique Kerber as the player most likely to overthrow Serena Williams atop the rankings. This number would have dwindled further when she stood match point down against Misaki Doi in the opening round of the Australian Open.

What happened next will go down in tennis folklore, Kerber somehow negotiating her way out of this cul-de-sac and going on to lift her maiden Grand Slam trophy. A wonderfully consistent summer has built on this career momentum, establishing Kerber as a rival to long-time World No.1 Williams at the game’s summit.

Victory over Karolina Pliskova in Sunday’s final of the Western & Southern Open will not only give her more silverware but also the No.1 ranking. Should she do so, it will end one of the most dominant reigns in WTA history. So to mark the potential changing of the guard, has picked out some notable numbers…

38,473,935 – Williams’ sixth and current spell at the top of the rankings began on February 18, 2013. Since then she has amassed $38,473,935 in prize money – nearly half her career total of $80,899,060.

4,880,887 – Not including her earnings this week, Kerber has already accumulated a career-best $4,880,887 this season.

6,355 – At the start of 2016, then No.10 Kerber trailed Williams by 6,355 points in the rankings.

306 – Williams is currently enjoying her 306th career week at No.1 (third-most weeks at No.1 in WTA history after Steffi Graf’s 377 and Martina Navratilova’s 332).

183 – Of the above total, 183 have come in her latest reign. Williams is spending her 183rd straight week at No.1 (the second-longest streak at No.1 in WTA history after Graf’s 186). Her previous longest streak was 57 (between July 8, 2002 and August 10, 2003).

47 – Kerber has already notched up 47 wins this season, a record not matched by any other player on tour. Williams has posted 33.

34 – Thirty-four-year-old Williams is the oldest No.1 in WTA history, a record she first set when returning to No.1 on February 18, 2013

28 – At 28, Kerber would be the oldest first-time No.1. Her closest competition is Jennifer Capriati, who was 25 years and seven months old.

22 – Kerber is bidding to become the 22nd woman to reach the summit of the rankings.

18 – Williams’ win-loss record in this latest stint at the summit is a staggering 204-18.

12 – When a 20-year-old Williams reached No.1 for a first time in July 2002 she was the 12th different woman to scale the top of the rankings.

2 – Kerber is hoping to become the second German, after Graf, to be ranked No.1. Other nations to have multiple No.1s are the United States (Chris Evert, Navratilova, Tracy Austin, Monica Seles, Lindsay Davenport, Capriati, Venus Williams, Serena), Serbia/Yugoslavia* (Seles, Ana Ivanovic, Jelena Jankovic), Belgium (Kim Clijsters, Justine Henin) and Russia (Maria Sharapova, Dinara Safina).

* Before her change of citizenship Seles, who was born in the Serbian city of Novi Sad, represented Yugoslavia

Source link

Where To Watch: Dubai

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

Tournament Level: Premier
Prize Money: $2,000,000
Draw Size: 28 main draw (4 byes)/32 qualifying
Qualifying Dates: Saturday, February 13 – Monday, February 15
First Day of Main Draw: Monday, February 15
Singles Final: Saturday, February 20, NB 7.00pm GST
Doubles Final: Saturday, February 20, 5pm GST (before singles final)

@WTA_Insider – WTA Insider, Senior Writer Courtney Nguyen
@DDFTennis – official tournament handle
Get involved in conversations with the official hashtags, #ddftennis and #WTA.

· Simona Halep has accepted a wildcard to defend her Dubai title.
· There have been five different champions in the past five years in Dubai. There are two returning champions in the field this year – Halep (2015), Petra Kvitova (2013).
· For the complete draw click here.

Simona Halep (ROU), Petra Kvitova (CZE), Karolina Pliskova (CZE)

Angelique Kerber (right thigh injury), Agnieszka Radwanska (left leg), Lucie Safarova (bacterial infection), Serena Williams (illness), Caroline Wozniacki (left knee injury)

Source link

Insider Podcast: Kerber One Win Away

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

CINCINNATI, OH, USA – No.2 seed Angelique Kerber has looked better and better throughout a tough week at the Western & Southern Open, and stands just one win away from not only clinching her first Cincinnati title, but also the No.1 ranking.

Hear from Kerber and fellow finalist Karolina Pliskova, along with vanquished semifinalists Simona Halep and Garbiñe Muguruza, on their throughts from a wet and windy day in Cincinnati, and whether Kerber’s felt the burden of potentially becoming the oldest woman to ever debut atop the WTA Rankings:

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or on any podcast app of your choice to ensure you never miss an episode when they go live. 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.

Follow @WTA_Insider

Source link

Ranking Watch: Pliskova On The Move

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

Understandably, given the potentially seismic shift at the top of the rankings, Karolina Pliskova’s mightily impressive progress through the draw at last week’s Western & Southern Open went largely unnoticed. Unnoticed that is until she scuppered plans for Angelique Kerber’s World No.1 coronation with a flawless display in the final of the Premier 5 event.

Having enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2015 – reaching six finals and threatening to qualify for the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global – Pliskova has found success harder to come by this time around. There have been flashes of her explosive brilliance – most notably in Indian Wells, where she reached the last four, and on the grass of Nottingham and Eastbourne – but consistency has remained elusive.  

This past weekend, the Czech proved once more that her place at tennis’ top table is very much warranted, outplaying Garbiñe Muguruza then Kerber to take home the sixth and most prestigious title of her career. The result bumps Pliskova several places up the rankings from No.17 to 11. Not only is Pliskova now certain to be among the leading 16 seeds for the US Open, she is also within touching distance – a measly 55 points, to be precise – of reclaiming the Top 10 spot she held briefly last season.

A more pressing concern is fulfilling her undoubted potential at the Grand Slams, where she is yet to make it beyond the third round. Her ranking rise has aided hopes of a good showing at the US Open, which begins next Monday.

Pliskova, though, was not the only player to receive a potential seeding boost.

Timea Babos (+8, No.41 to No.33): Also performing well in Cincinnati was Babos, whose first quarterfinal at an event of this stature was rewarded with a career-high ranking and a possible seeding at the US Open.

Alizé Cornet (+11, No.58 to No.47): It has been a testing campaign for Cornet, injuries precipitating a slide down the rankings and, in Cincinnati, forcing her to qualify for a WTA event for the first time since April 2012. She came through the test, going on to upset Kiki Bertens in the first round to edge back into the Top 50.

Alison Riske (+11, No.70 to No.59): Another player to come through qualifying was Riske, and while she was unable to capitalize on a bright start to upset Svetlana Kuznetsova in the second round, the points earned ensure she continues to close in on a return to the Top 50 for the first time since last September.

And finally…
Strictly speaking, Sania Mirza did not move up in the rankings last week, but by outperforming former partner Martina Hingis in Cincinnati she now assumes sole ownership of the doubles No.1 ranking. It is her 70th week on top – only Gigi Fernandez (80 weeks), Paola Suarez (87), Sara Errani (87), Roberta Vinci (110), Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario (111), Natasha Zvereva (124), Lisa Raymond (137), Cara Black (163), Liezel Huber (199) and Martina Navratilova (237) have been World No.1 for longer.

Source link