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Halep Holds Off Pliskova In Sydney

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

World No.2 Simona Halep held off the big-serving Karolina Pliskova to move through to the semifinals of the Apia International Sydney. A former World No.2 is up next.

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The Serena Williams Stats You Need

The Serena Williams Stats You Need

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

NEW YORK, NY, USA – There are a lot of numbers floating around when someone’s going for this much history, so we’re putting them in one place – we’ll also update this after every one of her matches this fortnight. So here you are – all the Serena Williams stats you need for the Australian Open!

Serena & Grand Slams
~ Serena has the second-most Grand Slam titles in the Open Era with 21 (Graf 22)
~ Serena has the third-most Grand Slam titles all-time with 21 (Court 24, Graf 22)
~ Serena has the third-most Grand Slam match wins in Open Era with 285 (Navratilova 306, Evert 299)
~ Serena is trying to win her seventh Australian Open title (won it in 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2015); she already has the Open Era record for most Australian Open titles, male or female
~ This is Serena’s 20th time being the No.1 seed at a Grand Slam (she’s won 11 of the first 19)
~ Serena is 60-1 in Grand Slam first round matches (only loss: Razzano at 2012 French Open)

Serena & Finals
~ Serena is 21-4 in Grand Slam finals, the second-best winning percentage Open Era (Court was 11-1)
~ Serena has won her last eight Grand Slam finals (last loss: Stosur at 2011 US Open)
~ Serena has won her last 15 finals (last loss: Azarenka at 2013 Cincinnati)
~ Serena has won 30 of her last 32 finals (only losses: Azarenka at 2013 Doha & 2013 Cincinnati)

Serena & Age-Related Stats
~ Serena is the oldest woman to win a major in the Open Era (33y & 289d at 2015 Wimbledon)
~ Serena is the oldest No.1 in WTA history (set record when returned to No.1 on February 18, 2013)
~ Serena has the longest winning span between majors of any woman Open Era at 15 years and 10 months between 1999 US Open and 2015 Wimbledon (Evert, Navratilova and Graf had 12-year spans)
~ Serena has won eight majors since turning 30, the most after 30 by far in the Open Era (Court and Navratilova three each, King and Evert two each and Jones, Wade, Li and Pennetta one each)

Miscellaneous
~ Serena will spend her 153rd & 154th straight weeks at No.1 during the Australian Open fortnight (third-longest streak at No.1 in WTA history after Graf’s 186 and Navratilova’s 156)
~ Serena is spending her 276th & 277th career weeks at No.1 during the Australian Open fortnight (third-most weeks at No.1 in WTA history after Graf’s 377 and Navratilova’s 332)
~ Serena has the most career prize money in WTA history ($74.1M – next-most is Sharapova’s $36.5M)
~ Serena has the fifth-most WTA titles in Open Era with 69 (after Navratilova, Evert, Graf, Court)

Before & After Patrick Mouratoglou
Serena joined forces with Patrick Mouratoglou after falling first round at the 2012 French Open, and the dynamic duo’s numbers speak for themselves – here’s a comparison of before and after Mouratoglou:

Pre-Patrick Mouratoglou
win-loss: 523-107 (.830)
WTA titles: 41
Grand Slam titles: 13 out of 47 (.277)
vs Top 10: 111-59 (.653)

Post-Patrick Mouratoglou
win-loss: 214-16 (.930)
WTA titles: 28
Grand Slam titles: 8 out of 14 (.571)
vs Top 10: 52-5 (.912)

Since Regaining World No.1
Since returning to the top spot on the WTA Rankings on February 18, 2013, Serena’s been fantastic:
win-loss: 171-13
WTA titles: 22 of 29
Grand Slam titles: 6 of 11
vs Top 10: 37-3

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Bencic Completes Sydney Semis

Bencic Completes Sydney Semis

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

SYDNEY, Australia – No.8 seed Belinda Bencic survived a second set hiccup against 2015 Australian Open semifinalist Ekaterina Makarova, 6-0, 2-6, 6-4, to reach her first semifinal at the Apia International Sydney.

Bencic, who won her first two WTA titles last season at the Aegon International Eastbourne and Rogers Cup, displayed some of her now patented efficiency in the opening set, dropping just 12 points against the Russian, who is playing just her second tournament since cutting her season short due to a lower leg injury. Rallying to force a decider, Makarova exchanged breaks with Bencic but the Swiss Miss proved too tough when it counted, converting two of her three break point opportunities to clinch victory in under two hours.

“We were very even with the level in the third set so it was a close match,” Bencic said in her post-match press conference. “Then it was about who gets more nervous and stays more mentally tough. So, I’m happy I won.”

Looking for her first Sydney final ahead of the Australian Open, Bencic plays a resurgent Monica Puig, who beat hometown favorite Sam Stosur for the first time in her career, 6-4, 6-4, to reach her first Premier semifinal.

“It’s a very important win for me, coming through three rounds of quallies and obviously coming through in the main,” Puig admitted after the win. “I’ve lost to her before, so it was a pretty big win for me today considering the amount of times I played her.”

Puig made waves back in 2013 when she reached the fourth round of Wimbledon, but has struggled for consistency since.

“I’m just trying to enjoy every single moment I’m out on the court. Rule number one for me this season is just to have fun out there. I get to play tennis for a living, and that’s pretty cool.”

Earlier in the day, Sara Errani looked in complete control against Svetlana Kuznetsova when the Italian opened up a 5-1 lead to start their quarterfinal encounter. Kuznetsova, a former No.2 and two-time major champion, caught fire from there, losing just one more game to oust Errani, 7-6(1), 6-0.

Always a character in press, the enigmatic Russian traced back her run of good form back to a last minute decision to play her home tournament at the Kremlin Cup.

“Moscow got my confidence going at the end of the year. I still remember the feeling playing good and comfortable against players on the court, but I didn’t even want to play Moscow. I was in China three, four weeks. I was just like, ‘Oh, my God. I can’t wait for this season to be over.’

“But then I came back home and I was like, ‘Okay, it’s one of my favorite events. I would like to play it.’ At the last moment, I decide, ‘Okay, I’ll play.’

“Then when I get there, it was like win and win and win. When I won the tournament, they offered me to go to Zhuhai to play. I was like, ‘Okay, I’ll go to Zhuhai.’ So in end of year I was just going with the flow.

“Whatever way the wind was blowing I was going.”

Kuznetsova will nonetheless have her hands full in the semifinals, where she plays current World No.2 Simona Halep, who opened the day with a two-set win over Karolina Pliskova.

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Can Venus Make It Eight In Melbourne?

Can Venus Make It Eight In Melbourne?

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

Venus Williams’ rise back to the Top 10 last year laid to rest a lot of the big questions surrounding the former World No.1 – except for one.

After her resurgent 2015 season – which saw her claim titles at Auckland, Wuhan and the WTA Elite Trophy at Zhuhai and be named WTA Comeback Player Of The Year – the biggest question now is whether or not the seven-time Grand Slam winner can add an eighth major title to her already impressive career haul.

It’s been a long road for Williams since the last time she won a Grand Slam, at the 2008 Wimbledon Championships. She’s gone from World No.2 to – at her lowest point – No.137, then found her way back to the Top 10. She’s fought through injuries and an energy-zapping chronic illness to end her title drought and reestablish herself at the top of the game – but she’s nowhere near satisfied.

“It’s a great thing to be Top 10 now with the level of the game, but I’m still very hungry. I’m ready for more,” Williams said in Zhuhai. “I’ve had so many experiences in tennis and I still expect a lot from myself. So I’m very happy to be moving forward, but I also want to continue, and not stop here.”

First up for Venus is the Australian Open. Though she’s made the quarterfinals or better in eight of her last 15 attempts, the Happy Slam remains one of the toughest majors for Williams. Her best result, a final, came in 2003.

The Melbourne field will be stacked with younger players gunning for a chance at the top, but Williams has been down this road before. It’s not the first time critics have tried to write her off, and it’s not the first time she’s silenced them, either.

“It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, everyone is willing to write you off,” Williams said.

“No one thought I would win Wimbledon in 2005 – I was 24 years old, and in sports people always think you’re done. But you’re not done until you say you’re done. I won that title that year, and it meant everything to me.

“I believed in myself.”

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