Tennis News

From around the world

Life Of A Hustler: The Svetlana Kuznetsova Story

Life Of A Hustler: The Svetlana Kuznetsova Story

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

SINGAPORE – “If you could turn the last week you’ve had into a movie, what would you name it?”

That was the question posed to an exhausted, punchy Svetlana Kuznetsova after yet another epic three-set comeback victory at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, this time over big-serving Karolina Pliskova.

“The Life of a Hustler: the Nonstop Life,” she laughed in her post-match press conference.

“I’m just, I don’t know, a workaholic I guess. But I do love this life and enjoy it, and I feel I’m really blessed to be here and to be able to win matches.”

Given the nonstop, rollercoaster past few weeks that Kuznetsova’s had, the name makes perfect sense.

Last to arrive, first to advance.

It’s been seven years since the last time Kuznetsova competed at the WTA Finals, and after ending the long drought the Russian made sure that her return was fittingly dramatic.

She snagged the eighth qualification spot on the last possible day – the very last day of the WTA season, in fact – with her win in the final of the Kremlin Cup. Her victory also knocked out Johanna Konta, who was waiting in Singapore and would have qualified by default if Kuznetsova hadn’t won the title.

Now, Kuznetsova continues to tear through the draw in Singapore and is already breaking new ground: she’s 2-0 in the group stage and, as a result of Agnieszka Radwanska’s win over Garbiñe Muguruza, she’s through to the semifinals at the WTA Finals for the first time in her career. She’s the first player to secure a semifinal spot, too.

17,086 miles, 1600+ minutes.

If Kuznetsova looks a little tired on court, it’s only understandable.

Her journey to Singapore was anything but straightforward, taking her from New York to Wuhan, and then to Beijing, Tianjin and Moscow before she landing in the Lion City. Along the way she racked up a dizzying 17,086 miles (27,497 kilometers) of travel.

She played for four weeks straight while chasing a qualifying spot for the WTA Finals, and spent more than 27 hours on court (more than 1600 minutes).

Those 27+ hours weren’t easy, either; Kuznetsova has played 30 three-set matches this year and recorded a WTA-leading 22 three-set victories. In fact, 46.6 percent of her matches in 2016 have been decided in three sets, including six during her post-US Open campaign.

So how much energy does Kuznetsova have left in the tank? How far can she go in Singapore?

Your guess is as good as hers:

“If I would know, I would answer that,” Kuznetsova joked during the press conference. She looked completely exhausted, but that was fine – that’s off the court.

“I can be tired now, it’s okay. Sometimes it’s okay.”

Take a nap, Sveta. You’ve earned it.

Official WTA Finals Mobile App, Created by SAP

Source link

Seles: Second Slam Bigger Than First For Kerber, Serena On Course For GOAT

Seles: Second Slam Bigger Than First For Kerber, Serena On Course For GOAT

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

SINGAPORE – Three-time WTA Finals champion and former No.1 Monica Seles is back at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global as a WTA Finals Ambassador. Aftr getting a chance to catch a glimpse at the Greatest Eight in action in Singapore, the nine-time major winner had one champion in mind when asked who had what it took to capture the Billie Jean King Trophy. 

“I think you do have to favor Kerber,” she said in a press conference on Wednesday. “The way she’s playing, the way she handled pressure at the US Open, knowing she would be No.1 and to win her first US Open – I was very impressed by that.”

Seles has been keen on Kerber, the first left-hander to ascend to No.1 since the American herself, especially since she lifted her second Grand Slam title in Flushing Meadows, the latest in a series of major milestones for the German in 2016.

“I think she has matured so well, playing really consistent tennis. I’m so impressed with how strong she is, mentally. To have the breakthrough, winning the Australian Open, was huge – beating Serena Williams like that. But it was even bigger to win the US Open, knowing all the pressure of being No.1, winning a second Grand Slam to solidify it.

“Sometimes in winning the first one, you still have that innocence and can play without pressure. But when it comes to the second, and having that extra little pressure, I was very impressed with how well she handled it.”

Angelique Kerber

Contrasting Kerber with another first-time major winner this season, Seles said all eyes will be on Roland Garros champion Garbiñe Muguruza, and how soon she can back up her big breakthrough on the terre battue.

“The first one is super hard to get, and very difficult, but I think going into the event, before you win the first one, you just don’t have the same pressure. You’re thinking, ‘Ok, I’m just going to go out there and swing at the ball.’ The second is when you’re feeling that you belong here and you want to prove, not just to everyone in tennis, but also to yourself that you’re meant to be here.

“I think that’s what Kerber has done so well. I think it’s also how you handle it mentally. She’s a bit more mature; she’s been on the tour, and nothing seems to faze her mentality. She fights so hard for every ball, and is in unbelievable shape. So she really prepared herself, both physically and mentally.

Angelique Kerber

“For Garbiñe Muguruza, I think it might take another year – or however much more time, it’s hard to put – because she has the game to win more Grand Slams; there’s no question. She probably won on her least favorite surface, the one that would least suit her game, when you think about it.”

Looking ahead to the next batch of major champions, Seles has high hopes for Agnieszka Radwanska, the defending champion in Singapore. Though the Pole rode the momemtum of her WTA Finals victory into a 13-match winning streak at the start of the season, she stalled at the Slams since reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open.

“As a player who played the sport and now loves to watch it, it’s wonderful to watch players making their breakthrough. You’d hope a player like Radwanska, who won this event, will have a breakthrough where she puts it together at a Grand Slam too. Once a few players are exiting the tour, there will be a lot more changes at the top.

“She seems to play so well at the lead-up tournaments, but I think she has the game where she could really pull through and do what Kerber did. But you have to give so much credit to Kerber and her team for putting it all together at 28.”

Agnieszka Radwanska

Check out more quick hits from Seles as she weighed in on Serena’s chances of surpassing Stefanie Graf, Maria Sharapova’s return to the sport next spring, and how she forecasts the future of the sport.

On veterans making breakthroughs…

It comes down to generations. Before me, there was Tracy Austin, who was probably just as young. I think it’s a lot healthier for women – or even girls and teenagers – that players are maturing later. You can handle the pressure a lot better, both physically and mentally, at 22, than at 16. Improvements in recovery and training, the courts have been slowed down tremendously. The schedule is a lot lighter; the ladies now have two months off, which was unheard of in my generation. The WTA has made many great changes to extend the longevity of the players. I think you’ll see players staying in the game a lot longer than mine, where the average retirement age was 26-30.

On who is the Greatest of All Time…

I think Serena, Stefanie Graf, and Martina Navratilova are still fighting it out; it will depend on what Serena ends up doing for the next few years. It’s unfortunate that Serena had periods where she wasn’t able to play on because of injuries, because she is still playing unbelievable tennis at 35, but it’s definitely not her prime, the way it was when she was in her late 20s. To have a player like Serena has been great for the sport across the board.

Serena Williams

I remember when I played Serena; she was 16, and we were playing in Chicago. I was No.1 in the world, and I lost to her; I told my agent that my days at No.1 were numbered because you could just feel that she was already a player who was so complete. I know everyone talks about how strong she is physically, but her groundstrokes, fundamentals, and technique are all very sound. As someone who loves the sport, I want to see her healthy next year, and try to go for a few more major wins.

On Maria Sharapova…

I think she’s probably one of the toughest competitors that the tour had. She’s mentally very strong. She’s never been a player that needed a lot of matches, kind of like Serena, to play well. I don’t think there’ll be any trauma to work through with her, so I think she’ll do well coming back. It might take a few matches for her, but I’m not sure it’ll even take that long.

Garbiñe Muguruza

On how she envisions the WTA’s future…

Since I stopped playing, the game has gotten a lot more global, and that’s only ten years, give or take. I remember when I first went to play in the Middle East and in China; now, there are tons of tournaments in those regions. Hopefully, we’re able to inspire a lot of young girls. I look back in my career, and I feel I inspired a lot of the younger ladies from Eastern Europe. I think Li Na has done the same in the Asia/Pacific region. I hope we continue opening up the sport for a lot more kids in different parts of the world, and try to prevent the sport from being too expensive so more can have access to it.

You look at the United States, where we have so many courts, and still don’t have the players we’d hope we would. But I think it’s about making the sport more accessible. It’s wonderful to see the younger players being more involved with the charitable side of things, where you do give back to the sport. All of us – legends and current players – are very thankful to be doing what we’re doing.

As juniors, I’m sure we never thought we’d actually be making a living in tennis, so it’s our responsibility to give back to the sport and make it grow, so we can see stars from different regions around the world.

All photos courtesy of Getty Images.

Official WTA Finals Mobile App, Created by SAP

Source link

Singapore Wednesday: Radwanska & Muguruza On The Brink

Singapore Wednesday: Radwanska & Muguruza On The Brink

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

SINGAPORE – Semifinal spots are on the line as the White Group takes center stage on Wednesday at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global. We preview the action.

Wednesday, White Group, Round Robin

[4] Karolina Pliskova (CZE #5) vs [8] Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS #9)
Head-to-Head: Pliskova leads 1-0

Key Stat: Pliskova, the WTA aces leader, hit 14 aces in her opening win over Muguruza. She is the first player to record consecutive seasons with 500+ aces.

Svetlana Kuznetsova’s magical run continued in full force on Monday in Singapore as she saved a match point to defeat Agnieszka Radwanska in a two-hour and 48-minute cliffhanger. Kuznetsova heads into her second career meeting with Karolina Pliskova with brimming confidence after taking the Kremlin Cup title to complete an eleventh-hour qualification for Singapore. Now that she’s here, the Russian is playing with house money and loving every minute of it.

“Sometimes it’s not easy, and sometimes you’re pulling through,” Kuznetsova said on Monday after defeating Radwanska for the 13th time in 17 career matches. “I put aside that I’m tired, put aside the emotions, the jet lag – I didn’t want to think about it. We came here to fight, let’s put everything else to one side.”

There was plenty of fight coming from Pliskova on Monday as well. The Czech also fought off a match point as she battled past Garbiñe Muguruza to earn her first WTA Finals victory in dramatic
fashion. Pliskova’s big-match composure has been a recurring theme in the second half of the season, and she has made a habit out of delivering her best tennis in the clutch. But she’ll have to be on song once again on Wednesday if she is to get past the scorching-hot Kuznetsova. There’s much on the line in this the second ​career meeting between these two – the winner has a good chance of securing safe passage into the semifinals.

Pick: Kuznetsova in three

[2] Agnieszka Radwanska (POL #3) vs. [5] Garbiñe Muguruza (ESP #6)
Head-to-Head: Muguruza leads 4-3

Key Stat: On six occasions, a player has lost a match in the round-robin stage and gone on to win the WTA Finals title.

Two players eager for a shot of redemption and facing possible elimination will meet for the eighth time on Wednesday when Agnieszka Radwanska and Garbiñe Muguruza lock horns in the nightcap at Singapore Indoor Stadium. Both squandered match points in heartbreaking fashion on Monday, as Muguruza blew a double-break lead in the third set against her long-time nemesis Karolina Pliskova while Radwanska failed to convert a match point late in the third set against Svetlana Kuznetsova. The pair have not met since last year’s WTA Finals, when defending champion
Radwanska snapped a four-match losing streak against the Spaniard en route to the biggest title of her career. The Pole will seek to replicate the magic against a player that can be as formidable as they come when she is on her game. Will Radwanska be able to keep the powerful Muguruza at bay again in Singapore, or will the Spaniard rebound from a disappointing opening loss to earn a much-needed victory?

Pick: Muguruza in three

White Group Semifinal Qualification Scenarios…
1. If Kuznetsova and Radwanska win, Kuznetsova qualifies for semifinals, Muguruza is eliminated.

2. If Pliskova and Muguruza win, Pliskova qualifies for semifinals, Radwanska is eliminated.

3. Any other combination of results will mean White Group semifinal qualification comes down to Friday’s matches.

By the Numbers…
14 –
Pliskova hammered 14 aces in 16 service games in her win over Muguruza on Monday.

8 – Radwanska is bidding to become the eighth player to successfully defend a WTA Finals title.

3 – No. of Czech players that have claimed a WTA Finals title (Navratilova, Novotna, Kvitova).

0 – Muguruza is bidding to become the first Spaniard to win the title at the WTA Finals.

Official WTA Finals Mobile App, Created by SAP

Source link

Clinical Kerber Defeats Halep, Closes In On Singapore Semifinals

Clinical Kerber Defeats Halep, Closes In On Singapore Semifinals

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

SINGAPORE – World No.1 Angelique Kerber laid down a marker at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global with an impressive straight-sets win over Simona Halep on Tuesday.

Watch interviews and highlights from Singapore on the WTA Facebook page!

After edging a closely contested opening set, Kerber raced through the second, wrapping up a 6-4, 6-2 victory in an hour and 22 minutes.

“I’m feeling very good here. I’m really enjoying being back here on the center court and playing my best tennis,” Kerber told Andrew Krasny during her on-court interview. “I think we played a great match today.

“I try every time I step on court to give my best. Of course every match here is tough – it’s the best eight players in the world – and I’m just trying to focus on my game.”

Kerber’s concentration wavered only briefly in a high-quality opening set, surrendering an early lead to allow Halep to edge 4-3 ahead. The following game she found herself in further bother, Halep threatening another break only to be denied by a pin-point forehand pass.

This proved to be the turning point, the German breaking the next game before calmly serving out the set. She rammed home her dominance in the second set, breaking twice more and committing just three unforced errors to wrap up victory.

Kerber, who also won her first match, will next face Madison Keys. Should she take at least a set from the American on Thursday, she will be guaranteed a place in the semifinals. Even if Kerber fails to do so, she would still advance unless Halep defeats Cibulkova in straight sets. 

Official WTA Finals Mobile App, Created by SAP

Source link

Insider Reacts: Four Thoughts On Kerber's Decisive Win Over Halep In Singapore

Insider Reacts: Four Thoughts On Kerber's Decisive Win Over Halep In Singapore

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

SINGAPORE – World No.1 Angelique Kerber took control of the Red Group on Tuesday, beating No.4 Simona Halep 6-4, 6-2 to move perilously close to qualifying for her first semifinals at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.

Read how the match unfolded in the WTA Insider Live Blog.

– This is the Kerber we’ve watched all year.

There were questions surrounding Kerber coming into Singapore. She was, arguably, the least in-form player in the Red Group and had not played particularly well since the US Open. But through two matches now, especially in her win over Halep, she’s proved to herself and everyone else that she’s ready to play.

Kerber’s defense and counter-punching was top notch against Halep. She prolonged rally after rally with her speed into the tramlines and then pounced on anything Halep left short. The decision-making was there, the shots were there, and most importantly, the confidence was there.

This was the Angelique Kerber who can win this tournament.

– The two “Fs” let Halep down.

The Romanian played well in spurts and she deserved a better scoreline for her efforts, but her forehand and finishing let her down. As she battled hard to penetrate Kerber’s defensive shell, she lacked the rhythm on her forehand side to pressure Kerber consistently. Halep chalked it up to a bad day at the office.

“The court here is slow and the ball doesn’t bounce,” Halep said. “Her balls are very low, so it’s tough to go from down, deep down, to make a winner.

“So I tried just to restart the points all the time, and just when I had the opportunity, good opportunity to finish the ball, I took it. But I missed a lot with the forehand, so I think that was the problem.”

– Kerber will qualify for her first semifinals if she wins a set, though she may not have to.

On Thursday, Halep will face Dominika Cibulkova in the first singles match (starting at 4pm local time) and Kerber will follow against Madison Keys (starting at 7:30pm). The only scenario in which Kerber does not qualify out of the group stage is if Halep beats Cibulkova in straight sets and Kerber loses to Keys in straight sets. If she wins a set, she’s through.

To the extent there may be additional pressure on Kerber, she’ll know the result of the Halep match before she takes the court. If Halep goes three sets, meaning Cibulkova wins one set, Kerber is through as well. But if Halep wins in straight sets, Kerber will know she has to win a set off Keys to qualify. The good news for the German is that she’s won five of her six matches against Keys.

A cornerstone of Kerber’s 2016 story is of course her failure to pull off this very feat 12 months ago. Last year, Kerber took the court in Singapore knowing she just needed to win a set off an ailing Lucie Safarova to advance. She lost in straights.

“Of course I have much more confidence right now because I know how to win very big matches, tight matches,” Kerber said. “I know what to do to go for it and just take the game in my hands. Of course I believe much more in my game and in myself than like 12 months ago, especially after Singapore one year ago.”

– Kerber’s biggest fan on Thursday? Halep.

While Kerber’s fate is entirely in her hands on Thursday, Halep needs some help from Kerber. And so the vanquished becomes the cheerleader.

If Kerber wins on Thursday, the only scenario in which Halep would not advance is if she loses in straight sets to Cibulkova. Taking a single set off the Slovak would put her through so long as Kerber wins.

But if Keys beats Kerber in straight sets, and Halep loses a set to Cibulkova, she’s out.

How do you say “Auf geht’s Angie!” in Romanian?

Official WTA Finals Mobile App, Created by SAP

Source link

Singapore: Halep Interview

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

Simona Halep speaks after her straight-sets loss to Angelique Kerber in the round-robin stage of the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.

Source link