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Radwanska Halts Puig, First Into Tokyo Semifinals

Radwanska Halts Puig, First Into Tokyo Semifinals

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

TOKYO, Japan – Agnieszka Radwanska kept her Tokyo title defense on track with an emphatic win over Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig, defeating her 6-2, 6-3 to claim her fifth semifinal berth at the Toray Pan Pacific Open.

Watch live action from Tokyo this week on WTA Live powered by TennisTV!

As SAP’s Behind The Numbers revealed, Radwanska’s game flourishes post-US Open, and is especially lethal during the WTA’s Asian Swing. She holds the record for most matches and most titles won in the Asian swing since 2011, and looks set to add to her tally after straight sets victory over Puig.

“I definitely played my best tennis today,” Radwanska said in her on-court interview. “I was serving well and keeping the ball very well. Obviously I knew [Puig] is a really great player, playing in a very top form. So I’m really glad I could do everything today, in my game.”

Radwanska hit 16 winners and allowed just 10 unforced errors during the one hour and 16 minute encounter, not giving Puig much to work with as the Puerto Rican hit 19 winners to 30 unforced errors.

Radwanska’s serve played a decisive role in the match, bailing her out of tricky situations time and time again. She struck eight aces – including a rare second serve ace to bring up set points – and won 66 percent of points behind her first serve.

“I just felt like John Isner for a little bit there!” Radwanska joked with the Japanese crowd. “I think I was serving very well today, and of course that helped me a lot. Especially because from her side the ball is coming so fast, so the serve was the key today as well.”

Radwanska awaits the winner of the day’s second quarterfinal between Caroline Wozniacki and Magda Linette for a spot in the semifinals and a shot at a third Tokyo trophy.

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Serena Unseats Halep In Indian Wells

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA – Top seed Serena Williams powered through a tough, but decisive victory over 2015 BNP Paribas Open champion Simona Halep, 6-4, 6-3, to reach the semifinals.

Watch highlights, interviews and more video from Indian Wells right here on wtatennis.com!

With strong crowd support from her compatriots, Halep started strong with an early service break, but Williams proved undaunted throughout the 68-minute affair, putting down 28 winners and only 24 unforced errors, breaking serve four times to defeat the defending champion and reach her second straight Indian Wells semifinal.

“It’s a lot of love in this stadium, and a lot of Romanians,” Serena jokingly told Andrew Krasny during her on-court interview, offering her apologies to Halep’s unflappable fanbase. “Sorry guys, but there’s definitely a lot of love here.”

Williams and Halep had played two tricky matches in 2015, including a three setter almost exactly 52 weeks ago in the semifinals of the Miami Open; with the Romanian beginning to show signs of improvement after a slow start to the season, the American admitted to being on her guard coming into the match.

“She obviously has been in good form the past couple years,” she said during her post-match press conference. “So, yeah, I feel really good just to get under there and buckle down and to win that.”

Up next for the World No.1 is soon-to-be new World No.2 Agnieszka Radwanska, who eased past two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova, 6-2, 7-6(3). The two last played in the semifinals of the Australian Open, which Williams won in two emphatic sets.

“She knows how to play in big stadiums and big matches, big games. Obviously she does everything so well, including running, and this is a good surface for her because it’s a slow surface. I think I expect there will be a lot of long rallies. Honestly, I will be ready.

“I really like Aga on and off the court. I think she’s super exciting to watch on the court, and off the court I think she’s really one of the nicest people. Regardless, I think it will be a really good matchup. Whoever wins will go into the final.

“It’s unfortunate it can’t be a final, but we’ll see how it goes. I don’t think she’s won this tournament yet, but obviously she probably wants to. We will see how that goes.”

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Riske Earns San Antonio Upset

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

SAN ANTONIO, TX, USA – Alison Riske began 2016 with a final at the Shenzhen Open, and stands just one match away from a second of the season after nabbing a 6-4, 6-4 victory over top seed Daria Gavrilova at the WTA 125K Series event, the San Antonio Open.

Gavrilova had beaten Riske in their only prior meeting – closer to home for the Aussie in Brisbane – and got out to an early advantage before Riske, a wildcard entrant into the BNP Paribas Open last week, pulled back and ran away with the win in straight sets.

“I got off to a slow start but it was only because she was putting a lot of pressure on me,” a breathless Riske said after the match. “I felt like that could only hold up for so long. I felt like I got into a groove a bit, and it worked in my favor.

“But she’s an amazing competitor; she is where she is for a reason.”

Up next for Riske is Germany’s Anna-Lena Friedsam; Friedsam was a lucky loser in Indian Wells who fell to eventual quarterfinalist Daria Kasatkina, and has earned some much-needed match wins, Thursday’s being over young Croat star Ana Konjuh in three sets, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.

Tsvetana Pironkova and Donna Vekic met just one week ago in Indian Wells, and the Bulgarian went two-for-two against the Croat in San Antonion, needing only 51 minutes to dispatch Vekic, 6-1, 6-1.

The last match of the day headlined the night session between No.6 seed Misaki Doi – the only remaining seed in the draw – who defeated hot-shot American Samantha Crawford, who reached the semifinals of the Brisbane International back in January, 6-3, 6-3.

In doubles, top seed Casey Dellacqua’s continued comeback came to an early end in the semifinals in San Antonio; with partner Daria Jurak, the Aussie fell to No.3 seeds Klaudia Jans-Ignacik and Anastasia Rodionova, 6-4, 7-5. Jans-Ignack and Rodionova will play No.4 seeds Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Nicole Melichar, who defeated No.2 seeds Liang Chen and Chuang Chia-Jung, 3-6, 6-1, 10-6.

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Pliskova Ends Kasatkina's Run

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA – Karolina Pliskova ended Daria Kasatkina’s breakthrough run at the BNP Paribas Open with a brilliant display of controlled aggression on Thursday afternoon.

Watch highlights, interviews and more video from Indian Wells right here on wtatennis.com!

Kasatkina has been one of the fortnight’s feel-good stories, but the emotional and physical exertions finally caught up with her as Pliskova ran out a 6-3. 6-2 winner.

Pliskova, the No.18 seed, took full advantage of the friendly conditions, hitting winners at will past her weary teenage opponent. However, it was far from mindless ball-bashing from the Czech, who gave Kasatkina very little in the way of cheap points, coughing up 10 unforced errors during their hour on court.

Kasatkina held her own in the first set, withstanding the onslaught from the other end until the sixth game when Pliskova arrowed a forehand into the corner to break. With Pliskova’s own serve as dominant as ever, the set was soon in the bag.

Pliskova continued to turn the screw at the start of the second, another thumping forehand bringing an immediate break as she hurtled towards a maiden Indian Wells semifinal.

There she will face 2012 champion Victoria Azarenka, who downed Magdalena Rybarikova in a 6-0, 6-0 shutout.

While Kastakina was unable to replicate the tennis that accounted for No.12 seed Timea Bacsinszky a round earlier, it takes little away from a remarkable rise; this time last year, the teenager, then outside the Top 300, was slogging it out on the ITF Circuit.

“Now I’m Top 40,” she said in her post-match press conference. “Last year I was 340. Yeah, it was pretty fast!” 

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Radwanska Eyes Up Top Spot

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA – For so long one of the game’s perennial bridesmaids, Agnieszka Radwanska is currently looking every inch the serial winner.

Last October, after countless near misses, the Pole finally enjoyed her own big day, defeating Petra Kvitova to lift the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global. This victory had been a long time coming; Radwanska and her entertaining brand of imaginative, all-court tennis had been wowing crowds since she arrived onto the scene in the mid-2000s.

Success in Singapore has imbued Radwanska with the confidence to take her game to the next level, winning more matches (17) this year than any other player. Number 17 came over Kvitova in Wednesday’s quarterfinals at the BNP Paribas Open, a result that guaranteed a rise to No.2 in the rankings.

She has been this high before, enjoying a brief stay after reaching the 2012 Wimbledon final, and this time hopes to continue the upward trajectory.

“There is always opportunity [to be No.1], but it’s not about one or two tournaments,” Radwanska said. “To be No.1 you really have to play the whole season very [well], and obviously catch Serena. But she is also playing very good tennis and she will want to play good and be there at No.1.

“It’s always a good feeling to be back in this position. I wasn’t long last time, but I think that was a few years ago. It’s always good to be back in that position.”

Radwanska could make inroads into Serena Williams’ sizeable lead atop the rankings with victory when the two meet on Friday evening. Williams has dominated their previous encounters, winning all nine, dropping just one set in the process. However, the American is taking nothing for granted when she takes on the new and improved Radwanska.

“She knows how to play in big stadiums and big matches, big games,” Williams said. “Obviously she does everything so well, including running, and this is a good surface for her because it’s a slow surface. I think I expect there will be a lot of long rallies.

“Honestly, I will be ready. I really like Aga on and off the court. I think she’s super exciting to watch on the court, and off the court I think she’s really one of the nicest people. Regardless, I think it will be a really good match-up.”

Radwanska has reached the final at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden once before, losing out to Flavia Pennetta in 2014 – an experience that still smarts: “Well, of course I was very disappointed, especially that I was feeling very good whole tournament and I was really playing great tennis.

“Obviously that was one of the worst moments in my career, that I wasn’t healthy in the final, the big event. But just that was past, so hopefully that will never happen again.”

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Game’s Greats Gather In Indian Wells

Game’s Greats Gather In Indian Wells

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA – The 10th anniversary reunion of the WTA’s Alumnae & Friends Program was held on the sidelines of the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 12, with more than 130 former players and other members of the tennis family in attendance.

With players-turned-broadcasters Mary Carillo and Pam Shriver presiding as co-emcees, greats in attendance included WTA founder Billie Jean King, Chris Evert and Tracy Austin, as well as Rosie Casals and Valerie Ziegenfuss, who were among those who stood with King in 1970 as members of the Original 9 trailblazers of women’s professional tennis.

“It’s really a privilege to be here, to be in this room with all the history and the legends of this game,” said Steve Simon, who was tournament director of the BNP Paribas Open before he became CEO of the WTA late last year. “The WTA needs to embrace and honor and continually remember the history and the legends that are in this room.”

Those reunited, in some cases for the first time in 30 years, included names such as Barbara Jordan, Ilana Kloss, Ceci Martinez, Pam Teeguarden, Pat Bostrom, Ros Fairbank Niedeffer, Anne White, Robin White, Sharon Walsh, Alycia Moulton, Peanut Louie Harper, Mary Lou Piatek, Andrea Leand, Debbie Graham and Marianne Werdel.

Simon added: “Everybody playing today, they need to understand what you did and what you sacrificed for the opportunity they enjoy today. That’s something I hope we never forget.”

Mary Carillo, Mary Pierce

Before the formalities got underway, Carillo asked for a moment of silence in honor of the legendary tennis historian and journalist Bud Collins, who passed away on March 4 at the age of 86. “If you don’t mind, while we’re all silent, we’re all smiling, too,” she said.

When Evert took the podium to introduce former WTA CEO Bart McGuire, she too acknowledged all the strong women from the 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s who had helped build the game.

“I didn’t start any of this – I just followed in the footsteps of Billie Jean – she paved the way for our generation,” said the 18-time Grand Slam singles champion. “But to see everybody here who we’ve all played against, and who worked for tennis and who worked in tennis… it’s overwhelming. It’s powerful.”

McGuire, now the driving force behind the WTA Assistance Program (WTAAP), which provides financial support to members of the women’s professional tennis community facing serious illness, was honored for his longstanding contributions to the sport with a trip to Wimbledon.

“When I became involved in women’s tennis, former colleagues – men – would call me a feminist,” recalled McGuire. “It was probably meant as a joke but I took it seriously. Thank you all for helping me to be a feminist.”

Austin then welcomed Christopher Clouser to the stage, in recognition of his support of women’s tennis during his eight years as chairman of the board of directors of the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Having retired in 2015, the much-traveled Clouser was presented with a pair of dark sunglasses so that he could enjoy future visits to tennis tournaments ‘incognito’.

Former ATP World No.4 Todd Martin, who is now the Hall of Fame’s CEO, and Dianne Hayes, the HOF’s VP of International Affairs, also joined in the fun on the night.

Peachy Kellmeyer, the first director of the WTA, was thanked for organizing the reunion with the vital support and assistance of Lisa Grattan and the Women’s Tennis Benefit Association (WTBA) as well as Peggy Michel, a three-time Grand Slam doubles champion who is now Vice President of Sales for the BNP Paribas Open.

“This is spectacular,” said Michel, looking at the assembled group. “What a strong foundation that was started by Billie Jean and Rosie and everybody. It’s like a sorority.”

The first WTA Alumnae & Friends reunion was held at Indian Wells in 2009. Since then, gatherings have been held on three continents, from Melbourne to London to Miami.

WTA Alumnae & Friends

From left to right: Chris Evert, Bart McGuire, Mary Carillo, Cindy McGuire, Steve Simon, Tracy Austin, Christopher Clouser, Billie Jean King, Pam Shriver, Lisa Grattan.

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