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Mladenovic & Garcia Grab Last QF Spot

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

PARIS, France – No.5 seeds Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic rounded out the French Open doubles quarterfinals, becoming the last team to advance to the final eight with a dominating victory over German duo Anna-Lena Friedsam and Laura Siegemund, 6-3, 6-2.

Mladenovic recovered from Saturday’s heartbreaker against Serena Williams to continue to delight the French crowd alongside partner Garcia by squeezing in a doubles win before the rain halted play for the rest of the day. The Frenchwomen are the No.2 doubles team on the Road To Singapore Leaderboard and have been a regular force on the tour since the start of the year when they teamed up in hopes of an Olympic berth.

Into their first Grand Slam quarterfinal as a team, Garcia and Mladenovic will face the on-form duo of Kiki Bertens and Johanna Larsson in the next round. The Dutch-Swedish team is fresh off of a title last week at Nürnberg and on Sunday in the third round they dealt Serena Williams and Venus Williams a 7-6(8) 4-6 6-0 upset.

The No.3 seeded team of Hao-Ching Chan and Yung-Jan Chan will have to wait another day to complete their match against No.7 Russians Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina. The Russians vaulted ahead to a commanding 6-1 lead, but the Chan sisters were just beginning to mount their comeback in the second set by opening with a break when the rain forced the match to be postponed at 1-2.

The Chans are the highest seeded team remaining in the doubles draw after the shock straight sets defeat of Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza on Sunday at the hands of Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova. Nicknamed “SanTina,” the pair sit at No.1 on the Road To Singapore Leaderboard and share the No.1 ranking in doubles, but they couldn’t muster up any magic against the Czechs as their bid for a “SanTina Slam” came to an end.

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Lepchenko, Tatishvili Bask In Bol Sunshine

Lepchenko, Tatishvili Bask In Bol Sunshine

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

BOL, Croatia – A quartet of Americans shined in the Croatian sun at the Bol Open, a WTA 125K Series event staged in the coastal town of Bol, Croatia. No.2 seed Varvara Lepchenko, Anna Tatishvili, Sachia Vickery and Jennifer Brady took advantage of the famously mild Adriatic climate and all notched wins at the inaugural event.

Watch free live streaming from Bol, Croatia all week right here on!

The No.2 seeded Lepchenko tamped down a late surge from Croatian wildcard Ana Vrljic on her way to a 6-1, 7-5 victory. Despite Vrljic keeping the score line more competitive in the second set, the American showed more consistency during the key points throughout the match – Lepchenko converted on all five of the break chances she created, compared to Vrljic’s two of seven.

Earlier in the day, Anna Tatishvili survived a two-hour-and-forty-minute battle against Paula Kania to advance 6-4, 6-7(4), 7-5. Her countrywomen Sachia Vickery and Jennifer Brady had a more straightforward road to the second round, advancing past both of their opponents in straight sets. Vickery posted a 6-2, 7-5 win against Croatian wildcard Tena Lukas while Brady scored the upset of the day over No.8 seed Patricia Maria Tig.

Ipek Soylu – who made Turkish tennis history at the French Open when she became one of two players to compete in the main draw of a Grand Slam for the first time – was back to her winning ways in Bol against Israel’s Julia Glushko. Soylu weathered a second-set shutout to come back with a 6-3, 0-6, 6-1 win.

Also through to the second round are Stefanie Voegele, who defeated Andreaa Mitu 6-3, 6-2; Ivana Jorovic, who defeated qualifier Isabella Shiniakova 7-5, 6-2; and Bulgarian qualifier Elitza Kostova, who defeated qualifier Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-1, 7-6(4).

Tomorrow the No.1 seed Anna Karolina Schmiedlova and Croatian favorite Ana Konjuh highlight Day 3 action as they take the court in their Bol openers.

Bol Open

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Stosur Stuns Halep In Paris

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

PARIS, France – Samantha Stosur dodged the rain and rolled back the years to dash Simona Halep’s French Open hopes on Tuesday.

Resuming at 5-3 down in the first set, Stosur powered through the heavy conditions and Halep’s defenses to triumph, 7-6(0), 6-3.

Halep was very much in ascendency when the match was originally stopped on Sunday evening. However, on their return 2010 runner-up Stosur was a different proposition entirely, winning the first seven points. A netted backhand ended the streak but did not halt the momentum, an inside-out forehand winner drawing her level at 5-5.

This vintage form continued into the tie-break, Stosur steamrolling Halep to complete the turnaround. The only thing that threatened the Australian’s dominance was the rain, which duly arrived at 3-2 in the second set.

This merely delayed the celebrations, though, Stosur returning to complete the job when Halep sent a drive volley sailing long.

Stosur arrived in Paris carrying a wrist injury, which forced her to withdraw from her final tune-up event.

“I didn’t know what kind of result or performance I was going to have regardless of the wrist injury, but I said after my first round I did exactly what I needed to do for that and sort it out and came here early.

“It was unfortunate I had to pull out of Strasbourg, but I needed those days to recover. Thankfully, touch wood, it’s been okay so far. I’m not struggling with it at all. I’m not even thinking about it now. I still have it taped, but it’s not bothering me and I’m able to play some of my best tennis.”

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Sánchez-Vicario Named WTA Finals Ambassador

Sánchez-Vicario Named WTA Finals Ambassador

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

PARIS, France – The WTA announced on Tuesday that 29-time WTA singles and 69-time doubles champion Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario will return as an ambassador to the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global 2016.

“I had a great experience at the WTA Finals in Singapore last year – spectator support was fantastic and the atmosphere was electric,” the three-time French Open champion said at a press conference held at Roland Garros. “I am honored to return, as it gives me the opportunity to interact with the local fans and friends, old and new, while doing my bit to give back to the sport I love.”

Sánchez-Vicario qualified for the WTA Finals 13 times during her successful career, winning the doubles title twice with Helena Sukova in 1992 and with Jana Novotna in 1995, while finishing as singles runner-up to Steffi Graf in 1993.

In her role as ambassador, the 14-time Grand Slam champion and International Tennis Hall of Fame member joins fellow legend, 59-time Grand Slam champion Martina Navratilova to promote the “Road to Singapore,” a season-long journey which follows players on their quest to make the cut for WTA’s crown jewel event in Singapore.

Barbara Schett, Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario

During the festival, the two legends will be participating in a mix of community and fan engagement activities including tennis clinics as well as appearances at the WTA Finals Fan Zone and the Racquet Club.

“Over the years, Arantxa has been an icon of women’s tennis and a great ambassador of the sport,” noted Melissa Pine, Vice-President of WTA Asia-Pacific and Tournament Director of the WTA Finals. “It is an absolute honor to have her back this year. Her love for the game has been one of the key reasons for her success, and we are really excited for her to bring that same passion to tennis fans at the WTA Finals in Singapore come October.”

The ambassadorship comes as part of an effort by the WTA and Lagardère Sports to enhance fan engagement by bringing them closer to the action during the 10-day festival of sports, lifestyle, business and entertainment from October 21-30, 2016.

“The BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global is a key event in the sporting calendar,” said Sarah Clements, Vice-President of Tennis – Asia at Lagardère Sports. “Besides the uniqueness of the competition, where fans get to watch the best eight singles players and doubles pairs in the world in action on court, the festival of tennis will also captivate fans’ attention with innovative offerings that will keep them entertained.”

Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario

All photos courtesy of Getty Images.

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Insider Podcast: Rainy Day Recap

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

PARIS, France – WTA Insider Senior Writer Courtney Nguyen and Web Editor David Kane reconvene on a rainy second Monday at the French Open to assess a first week free of the dramatic upsets and draw-changing results to which fans have become accustomed.

How has World No.1 Serena Williams fared as she began her quest for her record-tying 22nd Grand Slam title?

Plus, an analysis of the noteworthy but ultimately unsurprising early exits of No.3 seed Angelique Kerber and No.5 seed Victoria Azarenka, No.8 seed Timea Bacsinszky’s continued consistency on clay, unseeded Shelby Rogers’ role as the fortnight’s Cinderella story, and who will be most affected by the postponed round of 16 encounters involving No.2 seed Agnieszka Radwanska and No.6 seed Simona Halep.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or on any podcast app of your choice and 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.

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Watch Free Live Streaming From Bol

Watch Free Live Streaming From Bol

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

BOL, Croatia – This week is offering free live streaming from the inaugural Bol Open, staged on the picturesque Adriatic island of Brac.

Watch free live streaming from Bol all week right here!

Bol is the second of six WTA 125K Series events scheduled for 2016, and, despite coinciding with the second week of Roland Garros, has a few familiar faces in the draw. Heading the list of seeds are Anna Karolina Schmiedlova and Varvara Lepchenko, both of whom will be looking to get their campaign back on track after a difficult few months.

The WTA 125K Series has provided the platform that helped launch the careers of some of the brightest young talents on the tour, as Kristina Mladenovic and Elina Svitolina – the winners of the inaugural events, in Taipei and Pune – proved by establishing themselves in the Top 30.

Vying with Schmiedlova and Lepchenko this week will be a couple of gifted prospects, including Nao Hibino and Ana Konjuh, as well as more established names such as Australian Open quarterfinalist Zhang Shuai.

Watch them attempt to follow in Mladenovic’s and Svitolina’s footsteps all week here on!


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Quotable Quotes: French Open Week 1

Quotable Quotes: French Open Week 1

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

PARIS, France – The interview rooms at Roland Garros have been just as busy as the grounds through Week 1. Here are some of the best quotes from a hectic week.

“I just made it a point to play my game. Up until that point I had not been playing my game. I was playing really defensive. It’s not me. So I just wanted to be Serena out there.”

– Serena Williams on how she steeled herself for the second set tiebreaker after a long rain delay against Kristina Mladenovic.

“My youngest [sister] actually called me yesterday and I answered the phone and she was just like, ‘Where are you?’ I’m in Paris. ‘Are you in the French Open?’ Yeah, I am. ‘Oh. The teacher asked me about it and I wasn’t sure.’ Yeah, no, I’m here.

‘Paris sounds like a really good place to buy me presents.’ You know, it’s really expensive stuff so I feel like you probably wouldn’t like it. ‘No, no, I probably would.’ I was like, We’ll talk about it.

Then she said, ‘Okay. Here’s mom.’ That was the end of our conversation. (Laughter.)”

– Madison Keys reenacting a phone call she received from her sister last week.

Francesca Schiavone

“So Roland Garros announced my retirement, but I didn’t. So you can stand up all of you and go back to work in the office because I didn’t say that. I will announce when I will want to stop.”

– Francesca Schiavone clarifying an announcement that she had played her last match.

“It’s unacceptable really to lose ten games in a row in a match. I think that my focus a little bit was the part that let me down, the mental part. Something I’ve been working on. I had been getting better, so it’s not always going to be good.
But, yeah, I mean, I wish I would’ve done better.”

– Eugenie Bouchard after her 6-4, 6-4 to Timea Bacsinszky in the second round.

“I’m definitely disappointed and I’m definitely feeling like I should do much better. I feel like my results should be better, especially after two great weeks in Dubai and Doha. I was playing very well.

I feel like I lost a few close matches in Indian Wells and Miami, and I lost my confidence after that. Was really difficult for me to regain it. I had a couple tough draws with Madison Keys in Rome first round and Bacsinszky in Madrid, and then it’s difficult to get back in the groove.

Yeah, definitely not happy with the place I am at right now. The most important part is that I’m willing to work; I’m ready, too. I’ve been through much worse than a couple of bad results. It’s not a thing of attitude or lacking of attitude or work. It’s just a matter of lacking of confidence, and I’m ready to dig myself out of there.”

– Andrea Petkovic on her recent dip in form.

“My game actually feels good. My shots feel good. My movement feels good. So I think it hurts a bit more knowing I can play really well right now.

But I know it’s a long process and a long journey. When I restarted working with Nick, we talked about a long-term plan. Of course immediate results would be great, but it’s trying to improve over the long run to become the best player I can be.

And, yeah, so that’s talking months, a year, or more. So I have to kind of keep that in my head, that that’s the ultimate goal. But I know my game is there. If you can put it all together, immediate results are possible as well.”

– Bouchard on the long road back. She’ll be ranked outside the Top 45 after the French Open.

“I called her because I had lost seven or eight matches in a row, so I was a bit nervous. I wanted to win matches. So the problem was with me that I didn’t focus my energy correctly.

“My mind was not where it should have focused. As you said, I had tried other psychologists, but so far, I had not found the right person. But she has helped me a lot. I was going through bad moments, and she told me three, four, five things that really help me considerably.”

– Carla Suárez Navarro on working with a sports psychologist since September.

Carla Suarez Navarro

“I’m just like, I’m here to play tennis. That’s it. I’m not here to do anything else. I did have a conversation with the tour director afterwards, because I respect every person on the court and I want respect, too. I was pretty clear on that with him.”

– Venus Williams on getting a rare coaching violation.

“I think it was a good match, a beautiful match, as well. On both sides, I think. Sometimes, you know, there are days that she’s not really into the match or she has difficulties due to what she does, but today I think it was really difficult for both of us. I think I put out good tennis, solid, from the first to the last ball. And during the rallies I thought that “she was beatable.”

But then, as I said, I told you, she’s exceptional, and her biggest strength is her serves. She hit me so much with those serves. But then I’m a bit frustrated. She’s such a great champion, and she manages to escape and find a way out with this weapon.”

– Kristina Mladenovic after losing to Serena Williams in the third round.

“I was actually laying on the couch hanging out with CoCo and I was asleep. All of a sudden I heard my name on a radio. They were like, We can’t find Madison. I’m like, I’m right here. Then they were, Okay, you’re next on. Went from fourth to next. How does that work?

Once I kind of absorbed the information and had a second to process it I was really happy, just because I didn’t want to get stuck playing super late and potentially having the rain stop us.”

– Madison Keys on getting notice her third round match had been moved.

Alize Cornet

“I think that this is quite exceptional, to be able to stay at this level at the age of 36 or perhaps 35. I mean, it’s something that gets on our nerves, you know, I mean, for us. And she managed to kill me when she wanted to during the third set.

She has so much experience. She’s a great champion. Maybe she’s less consistent than before, but just a little. She’s still in the top 10. Nobody notices she’s less consistent. So you have to play full seasons. I fully respect what she does.”

– Alizé Cornet on her respect for Venus Williams.

“I think her experience is of course when she was playing on court and she understands what I feel, and that’s the main key, I think. Because for some coaches who didn’t play on such a high level, it’s tough, I think. It’s just different. It’s not bad; it’s not good.

That’s why for me it’s important to have my coach Iain, he helps me more like technical things, and she’s more on the mental thing for me. So everything worked well this period of time and in this stage. So it works now.”

– Elina Svitolina on having Justine Henin as an advisor.

“I saw Justine for the first time today. I didn’t even realize she was coaching. I was like, gosh, it’s a little bit surreal.”

– Serena Williams on seeing Justine Henin around the grounds.

“I speak with my coach before the match in the same day, not before, because otherwise I would have dreams with my opponent and it’s not good for me (laughter).

In the morning before the warmup, I speak with my coach, and he tells me what I have to do. I just put it in my game.”

– Simona Halep on how she prepares for matches.

Sloane Stephens

“She just gave me the mop today. (Smiling.) That’s all I can really say. It sucks and I’m sad, but she played a good match.”

– Sloane Stephens after winning three games in a loss to Tsvetana Pironkova in the third round.

“I feel like everyone’s career has been like pretty like steady and mine has been like, What am I doing? I guess that’s just part of being an athlete, part of sports, part of growing up.

If I hadn’t won three tournaments this year I would probably be kind of disappointed. There are definitely things to be happy about with that. Hopefully during some of the majors I can get back to where I was before making the second week pretty consistently. Something I’m just going to have to work on.”

– Sloane Stephens, still trying to find consistency from tour events to Slams.

“I said to everyone after the match, I was like, Jeez, I can’t remember being so happy to win third round. Yeah, it means a lot.”

– Sam Stosur, after beating Lucie Safarova in the third round. Stosur was 3-11 against Safarova heading into the match.

“At the risk of sounding really arrogant, I kind of think that I can play with like the top-10 players, like I feel like I can play with anybody. I just have to be consistent and not freak out all the time.

I feel like I’ve got to have more strategy, because it can’t be just this one thing all the time. I feel like I do have like the strokes and the power, though. But like, please — I don’t want to sound like I’m a mean person while I’m saying this.”

– Naomi Osaka, who made the third round in her French Open debut after making the third round in her Australian Open debut.

Naomi Osaka

“It’s hard to be the leader in any position, and he’s done wonderful. I think everyone enjoys working with him. I have spoken with him, too, and he takes everything into account.

It’s tricky, because there are so many players and they all need attention. Not tennis players, but, you know, the tournaments and different bodies that need — everybody needs a win. Everybody needs to walk out of the room feeling like that they got something out of it. So that’s not an easy thing to do, and he does well with it.”

– Venus Williams on WTA CEO Steve Simon.

“I’m disappointed. I can play better. But it was a wonderful moment. It was very emotional. The public supporting me helped me coming back in the match when I thought it was over. I think they believed more in me than I believed in myself.”

– Caroline Garcia, after losing to Agnieszka Radwanska in the second round.

“I haven’t put my name out there or anything like that, so it’s just my friends. So the fact that people can’t just write death threats to me after matches and stuff feels really good. I think I manage [the negative comments] pretty well. There are definitely days where I’m stronger and other days where after a tough day I’ll read them and sometimes that gets tough.

But it’s to the point where you have a tough match and you know you’re going to have a lot of horrible comments you just scroll to the top, don’t read it, close it, and don’t deal with it for a few days.”

– Madison Keys on Snapchat and social media.

Best Q&A Moments:

Q. We know that Serena has conquered the French language or done a good job. We have not really heard you speak French. Have you had an interest or not very good at it, or tell us about it.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I’ll let her do that part (smiling).

Q. Not into languages?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Actually, I am. But, you know, she’s bold, you know.

Q. The $64 question, how do you come down from this and focus on two days from now when you have to play that fourth round?
SHELBY ROGERS: Maybe you guys could tell me. I don’t know. (Laughter.)

Q. How does your sister take your success? I know you two have quite the rivalry.
NAOMI OSAKA: We had a roasting battle yesterday.

Q. How did that go?
NAOMI OSAKA: I think I won, because I kept — this is not going to make sense. But basically we were like dissing each other, and so I just kept posting pictures of her, like the most unflattering pictures ever.

Then after a while she stopped responding. I think I hurt her feelings. But, yeah, we’re still like best friends and whatever.

Shelby Rogers

Q. Everyone I have talked to who knows you continues to tell me that you’re the kindest, sweetest person in the history of civilization.
SHELBY ROGERS: You’re going to make me cry.

Q. Then I’ll change gears here. Do you have any plans to become hardened and bitter?
SHELBY ROGERS: No, I don’t think I can (smiling).

Q. How are things with the adductor? You’ve had that so many…
MADISON KEYS: (Knocking on wood.)

Q. I’ll do that too.
MADISON KEYS: Knock on wood. Everyone knock on wood.

Agnieszka Radwanska

Q. How do you feel about that?

Q. The match.
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: (Laughter.) I feel about everything.

Q. Is it tough to dig when you have grass coming next?
ANDREA PETKOVIC: Well, I will dig, but maybe literally on the court. (Laughter.)

Q. Talk about limiting your schedule this year, is that scary as a player that plays quite a bit? When you play more you can get more points and ease the pressure a little bit. Now you play less and it’s a lot of pressure each tournament.
AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA: If you ask me that five years ago I would say, Yeah, it’s very scary and I would feel weird not to play hundred matches. Here it’s different story. Like I was saying, experience is the thing, really using and making a schedule. Now to be home for two, three weeks in the middle of the season is not the scary thing anymore. Can just help you.

Sometimes I have this part of the season that I just rather practice more than playing matches and enter another tournament. So that’s what I decided to before I came here, and so far it’s working.

All photos courtesy of Getty Images.

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Rogers Roars Into QF At Roland Garros

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

PARIS, France – Shelby Rogers beat the odds on Sunday, dispatching No.25 seed Irina-Camelia Begu, 6-3, 6-4 at the French Open to reach her first-ever Grand Slam quarterfinal.

Rogers proved she could play on clay earlier this year when she reached the final of the Rio Open, but the unseeded American had never been past the third round at any major tournament in her career. Meanwhile, Begu had enjoyed the most consistent clay court season of anyone in the field, reaching the quarterfinals in Charleston and Madrid, and the semifinals in Rome.

Nevertheless, Rogers has been the Cinderella story of the tournament, taking out No.17 seed Karolina Pliskova, Volvo Car Open finalist Elena Vesnina and No.10 seed Petra Kvitova just to reach the second week. Playing on Court Suzaane Lenglen, she took it to her Romanian opposition, hititng 15 winners and nine fewer unforced errors than Begu, who only hit 12 winners in two sets.

“I think any player has to be ready to do well every week,” she said in her post-match press conference. “We enter the tournaments with expectations, of course, to do well or work on things or, you know, with certain goals in mind.

“If you don’t expect to do well, then maybe you shouldn’t play, you know. I keep going back to trying to treat this as any other tournament, any other tennis match. Obviously the stakes are much higher and the players are much better.

“I’m just trying to stick with my routines and do what I have been doing all year.”

Up a set and 4-2, Rogers briefly saw her lead under threat as the No.25 seed surged back to level the second.

“I won the first set and it was working. Okay, I missed a few, but still going for the right shots kind of thing. So just keep going after it I kept telling myself. It was working in the first, it’s going to work again. So keep doing it.”

Maintaining the course, a fifth break of serve in the tenth game proved decisive for the 23-year-old American, who clinched the biggest win of her career in one hour and 21 minutes.

“I really enjoyed playing on that court. It was a great experience.

“I think that’s a very important point on backing up a big win. I guess I have done that pretty much this whole tournament, starting with the first round, because that was a huge upset for me and kind of set the tone for the last few matches I have played.”

Setting up a quarterfinal encounter with No.4 seed Garbiñe Muguruza, Rogers becomes the first American not named Venus or Serena Williams to make it this far at the French Open since 2005 (Lindsay Davenport) and, at No.108 in the world, the lowest ranked player since 2012, when qualifier Yaroslava Shvedova won her way into the last eight, ranked No.142.

“I keep reminding myself to play one point at a time and that this is just another tennis match. But that’s getting a little bit harder to do as the rounds get farther.

“But I’m very happy with the way I played, and I just hope to continue it.”

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