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Kerber Prevails In Kvitova Classic

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

STUTTGART, Germany – No.2 seed Angelique Kerber outlasted rival and former World No.2 Petra Kvitova to advance to a second straight final at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, ousting the two-time Wimbledon winner, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.

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The reigning Australian Open champion trailed in her overall head-to-head with Kvitova 3-4 before their semifinal, but won their most recent encounter at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global. Kerber looked on course for a similarly efficient victory as she raced out to a 4-1 double break advantage – behind some stirring play and surprising double faults from her opponent.

“It’s a little bit different,” Kerber told press when asked about playing a fellow lefty. “The serve is a little bit different when it comes from a left-hander. I was warming up today with a lefty so that was maybe good for me. But still it’s always tricky to play against a lefty as well. I mean today after like the first few games I got used to it. But it’s always not so easy and a little bit different.”

Kvitova, who opted out of the Czech Republic’s Fed Cup semifinal as no to interrupt her clay court preparation, showed off her signature shotmaking to reduce the deficit, and while Kerber served the opening set out to love, it was still anyone’s game in the second set.

Things stayed level until the tenth game, when Kvitova broke through and converted her third break point of the set (she would have 13 overall). Kerber needed a lifeline that came in the form of German pop singer Helene Fischer’s “Atemlos,” which played over the loudspeaker much as it did one year earlier in the final against Caroline Wozniacki.

“The crowd really gave me a lot of energy today. They really pushed me to my limits, because I was a little bit down after the second set and then I was just trying to focus again and pushing myself. The crowd gives me so much energy to do that, and with the song and with the support of all of them, they gave me the chance like to start very well in the third set.”

Undaunted, Kerber immediately reclaimed the advantage with a break of her own, ultimately racing out to a 5-2 lead in the final set; saving three break points when serving for the match, she only needed one match point to defeat the No.5 seed in just over two hours.

“I knew how she’s playing; she’s playing really hard and aggressive and also the serve is always good. So, I was trying to move good and mentally be ready to have a great battle against her and taking this challenge. I think I was mentally ready for the match.”

A high quality match throughout, Kvitova maintained an impressive differential in winners to unforced errors (47 to 33), but hit nine double faults by match’s end – nearly doubling her total from her first three matches combined. Kerber, by contrast, kept things far more even with 17 winners to 14 unforced errors, and convered five of her 10 break point chances.

Looking to defend her title in front of a home crowd, Kerber will have to defeat either top seed Agnieszka Radwanska – who took back the No.2 ranking from Kerber last week in Charleston – or countrywoman Laura Siegemund, who is in the midst of a career-defining week after emerging through the qualifying to defeat Simona Halep and Roberta Vinci en route to the semifinals.

“I think it will be a good semi; Laura has nothing to lose. So, she will for sure go out there and try to beat Aga. But Aga will try to get into the final here as well. So, I think it will be a good match from both of them and I will be watching the match on the TV.”

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Kerber First Into Stuttgart Semifinals

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

STUTTGART, Germany – Angelique Kerber continued the defense of her Porsche Tennis Grand Prix title with a straight set victory over Carla Suárez Navarro in Friday’s quarterfinals.

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Since lifting her maiden major at this January’s Australian Open, Kerber has taken some time to get used to life with a target on her back. But following a couple of early exits, the German appears to have found her stride on clay, all the more impressive given the difficulty several of her peers have encountered at the Porsche Arena.

Against Suárez Navarro, one of the game’s most surefooted clay courters, she was particularly impressive, flying out of the traps, then overcoming a late wobble to close out a 6-2, 6-4 victory.

“I think it was a good match from me, a good performance,” Kerber said. “I know how Carla is playing and she is one of the best players on clay. I was trying to go for it, trying to play aggressive tennis. I knew this is the only way to beat her today and I think I did a great job.”

Although Kerber held the edge in previous matches with the Spaniard, she had lost their only tussle on the dirt. This came two years in Stuttgart and provided a source of inspiration during the rematch: “I knew that she beat me here two, three years ago. So, I was trying to take revenge! And I think it was a good match today.”

Taking the initiative from the off, a smart volley and a trademark passing shot saw Kerber break immediately for a 2-0 lead. She bookended the set with a second break, then took total control of the match with a rasping forehand drive to open up a 4-2 lead in the second.

The procession was momentarily halted when the Spaniard broke back in the ninth game, only for Kerber to batten down the hatches once more to wrap up victory the following game.

“But at the end of the second set it was still close and I know that against her I must play until the last ball because she is always tough and she’s fighting as well. So, I went out trying to take my revenge and play good tennis and beat her here,” Kerber added.

In the last four Kerber faces Petra Kvitova, who won a see-saw encounter with Garbiñe Muguruza, 6-1, 3-6, 6-0.

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Buyukakcay Keeps Istanbul Dream Alive

Buyukakcay Keeps Istanbul Dream Alive

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

ISTANBUL, Turkey – On Friday afternoon, Cagla Buyukakcay created a little piece of history when she swatted aside No.6 seed Nao Hibino in the quarterfinals of the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Cup.

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In a display of poise and passion, Buyukakcay delighted a bumper crowd with a 6-1, 6-2 victory that sees her become the first Turkish player to reach the semifinals of a WTA tournament.

After her first-round match, Hibino admitted to being a relative novice on the clay and it was a chastening experience against a visibly motivated opponent. Slipping and sliding to all corners of the court, the Japanese player was powerless to stop Buyukakcay romping through the opening set.

A pin-point backhand brought an early break in the second and from there Buyukakcay rode a wave of emotion all the way to the winning post.

“I’m so happy to be in the semifinals at home. Before I was feeling pressure at home and this year I’m enjoying the atmosphere,” Buyukakcay said. “For my career, obviously it’s important to compete at a high level and have good wins. It was one of my best performances and I’m happy it was at home – I’m even more hungry for the next match.”

There she will face another unseeded player, Stefanie Voegele, who defeated Kristina Kucova, 7-5, 6-2, in the following match on court.

“I don’t have anything to lose out there,” Buyukakcay added. “Of course I will do my best and I hope to reach the final. She has beaten some great players, so for sure it will be tough.”

Also through to the last four is No.5 seed Danka Kovinic, who overcame a disastrous start to see off qualifier Maria Sakkari, 1-6, 6-1, 6-2. “Since last year I think I was in seven quarterfinals and finally I am in a semifinal,” Kovinic said. “I didn’t start very well – a lot of unforced errors and she didn’t miss – but after I tried to make more pressure on her, my balls were deeper on the baseline and I think that was the key.

“The third set was a battle, a lot of pressure but maybe I was a bit lucky. But I stayed positive and did not make a lot of mistakes at the end of the match.”

Meeting Kovinic for a place in the final will be Kateryna Kozlova after she defeated Anastasija Sevastova, 6-2, 6-3, in the evening session.

Kateryna Kozlova

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Radwanska Claims Last Semifinal Spot

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

STUTTGART, Germany – No.1 seed Agnieszka Radwanska extended her winning streak against Karolina Pliskova, dispatching the Czech 6-2, 7-6(8) to claim the last semifinal spot of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix.

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Despite Pliskova’s powerful weapons and game, crafty Radwanska has claimed all five of their previous encounters in straight sets, allowing the Czech no more than five games a set. Their last clay court encounter ended in a smooth 6-3, 6-4 victory for Radwanska.

After Radwanska took the first set in a quick half an hour, it seemed like their Stuttgart quarterfinal match would go the same way as all their previous ones. Radwanska was unbothered by Pliskova’s famous serve, and so long as she got back a return she found a way to control the rallies and give the Czech the type of low, sliced balls that trouble her the most.

But instead of shrinking away in the second set, Pliskova instead gave Radwanska a taste of her own medicine, catching her with drop shots and beating her at the net. She broke Radwanska’s serve at 2-3, and survived a rollercoaster 11-minute game to consolidate it.

Despite the monumental effort it took for Pliskova to get the lead, it was short-lived Radwanska quickly broke back and leveled the match at 4-4. They kept toe to toe until another marathon game – this time 15 minutes long, as Radwanska tried to hold serve and subdue the resurgent Pliskova who brought up seven break points – sent the match into a tiebreak. Four match points later, Radwanska was through to her fifth semifinal of the year.

Awaiting Radwanska in the final four is German qualifier Laura Siegemund, who extended her own streak of upsets to oust the No.6 seed Roberta Vinci 6-1, 6-4 and reach her first WTA Premier-level semifinals.

The Stuttgart native felt strong support from the German crowd who were out in full force to support their local underdog.

“That was a crazy mood out there,” Siegemund said of the animated Porsche-Arena crowd. “It has so fun. I was very focused during the match and tried to concentrate on my game, but I could hear them in the background – the stadium was shaking.”

With the win she’ll reach a new career-high ranking of No.55, and earn herself a spot in German tennis history, too. With Angelique Kerber also having reached the semifinals earlier in the day, this marks the first time since 1985 that two Germans have reached this stage in Stuttgart.

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