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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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Kvitova Dismisses Muguruza Challenge

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

STUTTGART, Germany – No.5 seed Petra Kvitova is into her first WTA semifinal of the year at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix after overcoming a mid-match surge from Garbiñe Muguruza to advance 6-1, 3-6, 6-0.

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Kvitova grabbed the early break at 3-1 and roared ahead to a commanding lead. The combination of Kvitova’s tricky lefty serve and her powerful groundstrokes leaving Muguruza struggling to find her timing against the Czech, who broke once more to allow Muguruza just one game in the opening set. 

Muguruza changed tactics heading into the second set, playing more aggressively and taking away the pace from Kvitova’s heavy shots. A huge hold at 2-1 did wonders for Muguruza’s confidence as well, when she saw a healthy lead be wiped away but still fought off a break point to hold serve. Muguruza broke Kvitova’s serve for the first time at 4-2, winning the last four of five games to take the second set.

Despite all of the momentum swinging to the Spaniard’s favor, Kvitova – a two-time Grand Slam champion – drew from her long experience with three-set matches. She dominated in the final set, settling into the same strategy she used in the first set and keeping Muguruza back on her heels as the Spaniard’s errors – and double faults – piled up. A seventh double fault from Muguruza on match point sealed the match for Kvitova, sending the Czech into the semifinals.

“I think it’s very tough because I wasn’t playing bad, you know,” Muguruza said of the final set shutout. “I was running and trying to fight for every point but she was coming with great shots.

“And then, I was like, I’m playing good and it’s like 3-0, 4-0, 5-0. So, I know with this kind of players, with Petra if she’s playing good, she hits everything.”

Kvitova did the most damage on her serve – she hit six aces and no double faults, and only faced one break point all match long. She also kept her high-risk game in check, hitting a total of 29 winners and 21 unforced errors to the Spaniard’s 17 and 25.

Kvitova is set to face Angelique Kerber in the semifinals; the German eased past Carla Suárez Navarro 6-2, 6-4 in the day’s first quarterfinal.

“I lost to her in Singapore, unfortunately. I know how dangerous she is,” Kvitova said of the matchup. “She is playing a good game right now as well, but I’m in the semifinal now, I have three matches. I think that can help me with the feeling of the balls and everything. Lefties will be different for sure but I’m used to it.”

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Insider Notebook: Clay Court Shuffle

Insider Notebook: Clay Court Shuffle

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

Slippery Little Suckers: How is the Stuttgart court playing? It’s been described as slippery by a number of players, who have said they’re trying to treat it like a hard court and slide into the corners. Once you slide, you can’t stop.

The Curious Case of Aga on Clay: The Pole admits her struggles on clay are confounding, especially given the fact she grew up on the surface. Radwanska’s variety and court craft seem an excellent fit for clay but over time it’s become clear that she is at her best on faster courts. Radwanska says it’s just how her game has evolved given the prevelance of hard courts in today’s game.

“And I think every year it’s getting harder and harder,” Radwanska said in Stuttgart. “I also played so many years on clay. I grew up on clay, I played so many tournaments on clay and the when I started playing on the Tour everything changed. Everything is on hard court and I got so used to hard court. You know, now it’s so hard to play on clay again, especially because the clay court season is so short.”

When Head-to-Heads get mental: Ana Ivanovic fell once again to Karolina Pliskova, this time a 6-4, 6-2 loss in their first meeting on clay. Pliskova is now 5-0 against Ivanovic and the Serb has only been able to get one set off the Czech. Ivanovic says given her track record, she’s tempted to try and change her game against the flat-hitting Pliskova, but then she gives up on her strengths.

“That’s what I get caught up in because I feel like I should change something and I don’t know what,” Ivanovic said. “I tried to change the position on my standings, you know I wanted to play a little more slice, to move around but it’s hard because her balls are coming deep and strong and then I didn’t really get a chance to do that and whenever I threw in the high ball, I felt she handled it really well and she was not making too many errors.

“I thought on clay it would be a little bit different match. But it was still tough.”

Andrea Petkovic

Andrea Petkovic confident after Stuttgart fall: The German looks on her way out of her slump after scoring a tough three set win at Fed Cup, opening with a clean win over Kristina Mladenovic in Stuttgart, and then playing her best set of tennis a very long time by taking the opener 6-1 over Agnieszka Radwanska on Thursday. But Petkovic was never the same after taking a bad fall early in the second set and lost, 1-6, 6-1, 6-2.

“I felt like a lot of things were coming together and after the fall, it was so annoying because nothing really happened,” Petkovic said. “It’s just that my back shifted a little bit and I felt very unsafe on my legs. It wasn’t that I had any pain or something but I was just more cautious in moving around and going into the corner. You know it’s helpful to move well against Aga Radwanska.

“So, yes, I’m just very annoyed right now. Luckily, I’m frustrated so I’m speaking very negatively, but I’m actually happy that nothing worse happened because I slipped on the line things could have gotten much worse. So, everything is okay but I’m still annoyed.”

Petra Kvitova’s Gamble Pays Off: Kvitova has never met a Fed Cup tie she didn’t want to play. So her decision to rule herself out of the Czech Republic’s semifinal tie against Switzerland last weekend was a surprising one. Kvitova was fully fit but opted out in order to focus on her preparation for the clay court swing.

So far so good. She double-bageled Louisa Chirico to start her tournament in Stuttgart and gutted out a win over Monica Niculescu, saving three match points to win 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-2 to make the quarterfinals.

Not that she’s not already dreaming of grass court season:

Slicing and Dicing with Monica Niculescu: A lovely profile of the one-of-a-kind Romanian here.

During her career, the two-time WTA title-winner has enjoyed a lot of her success in Asia, particularly China. Niculescu announced herself massively on the tennis stage with a giant-killing run after qualifying for the 2011 Beijing Open, taking out Li Na along the way. It seems only right that one of her two titles came in China – namely at the WTA International event in Guangzhou.

“The people love me there. I don’t want to be…not modest,” Niculescu laughed. “The people like me, they like my slice forehand and I feel so welcome there every time. I remember when I won Guangzhou – they actually put a song [together] for me. I didn’t understand what they were saying because it was Chinese but then I heard ‘Monica! Monica!’ so it was my name [in the song]! I feel very good there, they love my slice!”

Louisa Chirico Stepping Up: The young American has scored wins over Lucie Safarova, Naomi Osaka, Camila Giorgi, and Daniela Hantuchova on clay over the last three weeks. Good profile from her via The Tennis Island.

Tournament Moves: As confirmed on the WTA Insider Podcast last week, the Katowice Open will move to Biel, Switzerland in 2017. The Kaohsiung Open will be moving to Taipei.

Maria Sharapova update: ITF President David Haggerty told the AP a decision could come down before Wimbledon.

Simona Halep

Simona Halep’s Tough Recovery: A semifinalist last year, Halep bowed out of Stuttgart in her opening match, losing, 6-1, 6-2 to German qualifier Laura Siegemund. Halep struggled with her breathing during the match and chalked it up to her poor recovery from a heavy Fed Cup weekend. Halep’s coach Darren Cahill was not with her in Stuttgart but the pair will reunite next week in preparation for Madrid.

Caroline Wozniacki Battling Injury: Wozniacki has already withdrawn from both the Mutua Madrid Open and Internazionali BNL d’Italia due to the ankle injury she sustained during practice a week before Fed Cup. Can she get herself fit for the French Open?

Samantha Stosur and David Taylor to split: As reported by Australian media, Stosur and Taylor have agreed to part ways after the French Open.

Petra Kvitova hires Frantisek Cermak: Coachless no more. Kvitova has hired former ATP doubles specialist Frantisek Cermak as her new coach.

Jarmila Wolfe undergoes surgery: The Australian underwent shoulder surgery in Texas this week.

Coping with Petko: Petkovic told reporters she’s currently reading Buddenbrooks, a 1901 German novel by Thomas Mann. She then went into her heady coping mechanism after losses:

QUESTION: It’s better than the sad French films when you lose on grass?

PETKOVIC: But come on, they are really good (laughs). When I lost in Australia I watched Souffle d’Amour or something.

QUESTION: Cheerful?

PETKOVIC: (laughs). Yes that was very cheerful. I really like to self-destruct. It’s one of my hidden talents.

All photos courtesy of Getty Images.

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Siegemund Stuns Halep In Stuttgart

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

STUTTGART, Germany – German qualifier Laura Siegemund continued her Stuttgart romp, backing up her first-round upset of Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova with an even bigger win over No.4 seed Simona Halep for a spot in the quarterfinals of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix.

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“I think it’d be presumptuous to say [the match] was perfect, because there is always something to improve,” Siegemund said. “But that was very good and of course I’m mega happy. I have not expected that it would go so smoothly.”

Halep, who was nursing a left ankle injury she picked up over the Fed Cup weekend during Romania’s 1-4 loss to Germany, was subdued against the German. The Romanian’s normally aggressive baseline play was noticeably absent, hitting only three winners and 10 unforced errors to Siegemund’s 28 and 14, respectively.

But Siegemund was undaunted by both the occasion and her ailing opponent. Playing in front of a local audience in her hometown of Stuttgart, Siegemund allowed Halep only three games in their hour-long match, winning 6-1, 6-2.

“I just played point by point,” the German said. “Sure, it’s definitely the biggest win of my career, but now after the match, I can only say, I have made few mistakes.

“I started very aggressively. That was the plan – attack her serve, tear open the field early. I know I’ve always done that well and it worked very well this time too.”

With the win Siegemund continues her upward momentum: earlier this year she defeated the World No.22 Jelena Jankovic at the Australian Open, and in Charleston she made the quarterfinals of a Premier-level event for the first time.

Siegemund will go on to play against Roberta Vinci in the quarterfinals, the Italian having booked her spot after brushing aside Julia Goerges 6-3, 6-4.


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