Tag Archive | "Clijsters"

Chinese First:  Li Na Clutches French Open Title

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Chinese First: Li Na Clutches French Open Title

From the outset, this year’s French Open title was up for grabs. Still, a final featuring world number five and defending champion Francesca Schiavone and world number six Li Na was a surprise. Today, Li defeated Schiavone 6-4,7-6 to become the first Chinese player to capture a major.

With a combined age of over sixty, this was the most mature major women’s final since Wimbledon 1998 whereby Jana Novotna prevailed over Nathalie Tauziat. At 30 years of age, in her first final since her title at Roland Garros, Schiavone was hoping to end her trophy drought by successfully repeating.

Since becoming the first Chinese individual to reach a major final, Li fell off the radar. After the Australian Open, the 29 year old failed to advance beyond the second round at any hardcourt event. Ultimately, the clay proved therapeutic with two semifinal showings by Li in Madrid and Rome.

After each woman held her initial two games, with a backhand volley winner, Li had double break point. With Schiavone’s forehand up the line sailing wide, Li pocketed the break. By consolidating with a love game, Li moved ahead 4-2.

With Schiavone unable to fabricate a break point, the one game difference was all Li required to seize the first set.

There was a serenity about Li which was absent in her first major final. Li had clearly learned from her loss to Kim Clijsters in Melbourne. With sizzling forehands, Li had double digit winners in the first set.

Furthermore, early on, it was conspicuous that Schiavone’s use of spin, slice, volley and overall variety were not throwing Li off balance. Instead, it was the Italian who was finding herself on her back heel.

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Women’s Field Wide Open at French Open

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Women’s Field Wide Open at French Open

With the exception of one Federation Cup match last year, Kim Clijsters has not competed on clay since the French Open in 2006. Nevertheless, with Clijsters triumphant at the last two majors and considering the state of the women’s game, the Belgian can play herself into form and is consequently a serious contender for the French Open trophy.

Strangely enough, Maria Sharapova is also a favorite on clay. The Russian’s victory in Rome two weeks ago demonstrates that she can power her way to a title on this surface. As such, Sharapova deserves to be in the column of players to beware of.

More so than previous years, there has been no standout on the red clay this season. Julia Goerges surprised world number one Caroline Wozniacki in the final in Stuttgart. Petra Kvitova made her debut into the top ten with her victory in Madrid, stunning world number four Victoria Azarenka.

Therefore, any one residing in the vicinity of the ten best from world number three Vera Zvonareva to Azarenka to defending champion Francesca Schiavone to Kvitova has a fair shot at hoisting the title. The French Open draw is revealed. Here’s an analysis of the key match-ups.

Wozniacki’s first round opponent is Kimiko Date-Krumm. The Japanese is know for pulling upsets at majors. Last year, she shocked Dinara Safina in the same round. As a result, Wozniacki will have no time to relax early on.

Another challenging encounter for the world number one could come in the third round where she may face 2009 French Open winner Svetlana Kuznetsova. Wozniacki’s progression to the final could be further complicated by 2010 finalist Samantha Stosur or Goerges in the quarterfinals and either Jelena Jankovic, Zvonareva, or Schiavone in the semifinals.

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Wozniacki Blocks Vesnina for Championship at the Family Circle Cup

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Wozniacki Blocks Vesnina for Championship at the Family Circle Cup

Two years ago, Caroline Wozniacki advanced to the final in Charleston but went down in straight sets to Sabine Lisicki. Last year, an ankle injury during the first set of the semifinals caused Wozniacki to forfeit the match. Today, Wozniacki made up for past disappointments. The world number one vanquished Elena Vesnina 6-2, 6-3 for her first championship at the Family Circle Cup and her third title of the season.

Wozniacki’s road to the final was treacherous. The Dane prevailed in two tough tiebreaker sets in the third round. Wozniacki overcame Yanina Wickmayer serving for the match in the quarterfinals and battled past Jelena Jankovic in the semifinals.

For her part, Vesnina beat defending champion Samantha Stosur in the third round and knocked out two seeded opponents in the quarter and semifinals. Thus, Vesnina was hoping to cap her week with another great victory and get her maiden WTA title after failing on four prior occasions.

In their head to head, Wozniacki had a 4-1 record against Vesnina including two semifinal wins at Ponte Vedra Beach on clay in 2009 and 2010. Consequently, Vesnina would need to do something special to walk away with the trophy.

With a backhand volley winner, Vesnina arrived at break point. Yet, with a crosscourt backhand winner, Wozniacki took care of that. Finally on her fifth game point chance, Wozniacki held for 2-1 in the first set.

Then, with a backhand down the line winner, Wozniacki had double break point. When Vesnina dumped a forehand into the net, Wozniacki secured the break and consolidated for 4-1. Later, Wozniacki broke Vesnina a second time to bank the first set.

After dismissing a break point in the first game of the second set, Wozniacki manufactured a break point. However, Vesnina came up with a great backhand volley and eventually held for 1 all.

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Azarenka Overpowers Sharapova for Second Trophy at the Sony Ericsson Open

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Azarenka Overpowers Sharapova for Second Trophy at the Sony Ericsson Open

Victoria Azarenka placed her name among the elites at the Sony Ericsson Open. Azarenka beat Maria Sharapova 6-1, 6-4 to claim her second title at this tournament becoming the eighth woman to have won the title a minimum of two times.

Participating in Miami for the first time since 2007, Sharapova cruised to the quarterfinals. However, the Russian fought off Alexandra Dulgheru and Andrea Petkovic to reach her third final in Miami.

After difficult three setters to advance to the quarterfinals, Azarenka dominated defending champion and world number two Kim Clijsters and coasted to victory in the semifinals versus world number three Vera Zvonareva.

Azarenka was in the zone early on. In the initial game, after Sharapova had double game point, Azarenka connected on a forehand up the winner for break point. Despite Sharapova surviving that one, on her third break point chance, Azarenka converted.

With a few miscues by Azarenka, Sharapova broke back quickly to level the set at 1 all. Still, as a result of two consecutive double faults, Sharapova went down 0-30. Later, when Sharapova sent a forehand wide, Azarenka had the break for 2-0.

With Sharapova spraying forehands and backhands all over the place and ineffective on the return of serve, Azarenka rolled five consecutive games which included two additional breaks to take the first set.

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Azarenka Bypasses Clijsters to Advance to the Semifinals at the Sony Ericsson Open

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Azarenka Bypasses Clijsters to Advance to the Semifinals at the Sony Ericsson Open

Tonight, two Sony Ericsson Open champions collided for a spot in the semifinals. Victoria Azarenka the 2009 champion brushed aside 2005 and defending champion Kim Clijsters 6-3, 6-3 to reach her first semifinal of the season.

Clijsters’ fourth round match against Ana Ivanovic was rescheduled from Monday to Tuesday due to rain. Then, the Belgian had to overcome a 1-5 deficit in the third set to make it to the quarterfinals. Consequently, it was anyone’s guess what physical and emotional toll this would have.

At 1 all, Clijsters committed an error to give Azarenka break point. The Belarusian converted when Clijsters sent a backhand long. Azarenka then comfortably consolidated for a 3-1 edge.

Yet, with Azarenka pushing a forehand long, Clijsters had triple break point. The Belgian capitalized when Azarenka threw in her second double fault of the game.

At that point, Clijsters seemed over her lackadaisical start. However, after having double game point, Clijsters dumped a backhand pass into the net to give Azarenka break point. As a result of a miscue from Clijsters, Azarenka took the game and consolidated for 5-3.

Breaking Clijsters for the third time, Azarenka bagged the opening set.

Subsequent to a quick hold, on a double fault by Clijsters, Azarenka had her second break point of the second set. Azarenka moved in front 2-0 when Clijsters’ forehand landed out of play.

Still, Clijsters fought back breaking right away. Again though after having game point, Clijsters was broken. Azarenka duplicated that achievement Clijsters’ next service game to jump ahead 5-1.

With Azarenka serving, Clijsters dismissed two match points and broke. Clijsters shrunk the gap to 5-3.

At this point, the crowd was still spurring Clijsters on hoping for a repeat of yesterday’s miracle. However, Azarenka would not be denied. On her third match point opportunity, Azarenka sealed the deal.

After the match, Clijsters was asked about what went wrong “Obviously, tonight was going to be very tough. I just didn’t feel good out there mentally, physically, [it] didn’t feel right”.

Whether it could have been too much tennis? Clijsters replied “I don’t know, a combination of a few things. . . Tough last few days, but not in a way that I should not be ready for that. I train hard enough. . . I just didn’t have any fighting spirit. It’s obviously tough against someone like her. Against some lower ranked players maybe it’s possible to get through matches”.

Azarenka had played Clijsters five times prior with only one win. Therefore, MiamiTennisNews inquired what was the difference today. Azarenka responded “ I played a little bit more aggressive. I tried to come in more. That was the biggest difference and physically I was much more stable today”.

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Petkovic Pulls the Plug on Wozniacki at the Sony Ericsson Open

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Petkovic Pulls the Plug on Wozniacki at the Sony Ericsson Open

The first time Andrea Petkovic battled a world number one it was in Rome in 2010. On that occasion, the German came out on the losing end. This time around, the 23 year old also ranked 23rd was not intimidated by her opponent’s ranking. Petkovic stunned Caroline Wozniacki to clinch her first quarterfinal berth at the Sony Ericsson Open.

Wozniacki’s intent was to advance to her third straight quarterfinal at this tournament. Also, the Dane was trying to become the third player to win back to back titles in Indian Wells and Miami; an accomplishment posted only by Steffi Graf and Kim Clijsters.

The first set could have been decided by the flip of a coin. However, it was Petkovic breaking for a 6-5 advantage and on her second set point producing the ace to wrap it up.

In the second set, Wozniacki capitalized on triple break point when Petkovic dumped a forehand into the net and moved in front 2-0.

Yet, when Wozniacki double faulted, Petkovic obtained triple break point. Despite getting to deuce, Wozniacki gave the German one more chance which she seized. Petkovic eventually consolidated for 2 all after wiping out triple break point.

Later on, with a backhand volley, Wozniacki arrived at double break point. She converted for 5-3 and with a love game sealed the second set.

In the deciding set, with a backhand crosscourt winner, Petkovic had break point. The German captured the game for a 2-0 lead. However, Wozniacki with a forehand volley winner promptly broke back.

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Clijsters Shakes Off Martinez Sanchez, Zvonareva Advances

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Clijsters Shakes Off Martinez Sanchez, Zvonareva Advances

Defending Sony Ericsson Open champion Kim Clijsters halted Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez to advance to the fourth round at the Sony Ericsson Open. That victory marked the 500th of Clijsters’ career.

Martinez Sanchez is know for her craftiness and in their first meeting, the Spaniard gave Clijsters plenty to think about. Using the dropshot, volleys and slice to offset Clijsters’ power.

Clijsters and Martinez Sanchez were all squared in the break department until Clijsters broke for a second time which made the difference in the first set.

Martinez Sanchez captured an early break in the second set, but Clijsters found the means to level the set. Still at 4 all, Martinez Sanchez fired a winner for double break point. When Clijsters’ forehand landed long, the Spaniard went ahead 5-4.

Subsequently, with a volley winner, Martinez Sanchez arrived at double set point and converted when Clijsters’ return traveled long.

In the deciding set, Clijsters secured a quick break and consolidated to move in front 3-0. However, when Clijsters flubbed a pass, Martinez Sanchez had her second break opportunity of the game. With Clijsters netting a backhand, Martinez Sanchez was gifted the break.

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Roger Federer Holds Press Conference at Sony Ericsson Open

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Roger Federer Holds Press Conference at Sony Ericsson Open

Two-time Sony Ericsson Open champion Roger Federer held his first press conference today at the 2011 Sony Ericsson Open. Here is what he had to say to the media.
​Q.  What is it that you love about playing tennis?  Simple question.

​ROGER FEDERER:  I guess, you know, it’s myself to blame if I win or lose, which I kind of like, and that it’s one on one, or if you like, in doubles two or two. ​But there’s a distance, so there is always a lot of fair play.  There’s no ugly plays in that way.  Good sport to watch on TV; good sport to watch live.  It’s atheltical and has a bit of everything.  I think it’s really nice.
​Q.  How are you finding the transition from one court to the next?

​ROGER FEDERER:  Well, it’s still hard court, so should be all right.  It’s a bit more humid here.  It hasn’t been brutal, so it’s been all right.  It was nice and warm as well in Indian Wells, so it’s been okay. Obviously I’ve played a lot of tennis, so maybe just I’m a touch tired, but I’m happy I still have a few more days.  So there’s no issue there. ​I practiced yesterday and today here and I feel fine, you know.  There’s not much to say really yet.  Conditions are obviously slightly different, adjusting, you know, string tensions, just understanding how far the ball flies, how it bounces, and all those things. ​That’s why I just need a couple more practice sessions and I’ll be okay.
​Q.  A few weeks ago Andre Agassi said of Andy Roddick, if it weren’t for you, that he would have had a tremendous career.  Do you take a little bit of joy in knowing you’ve knocked Andy out of sort of that major block?  What do you see in him down the road?

​ROGER FEDERER:  No, I’m not happy at all.  I think he’s done actually really well.  I mean, he achieved all his dreams basically  you know, except maybe winning Wimbledon  but he was in many great matches in finals there, which he can always look back on. ​I think that was very nice, as well.  Clearly he’d like to win those, but not everybody can say they’ve been in multiple Wimbledon finals, you know.  He’s won the US Open, was world No. 1, won Davis Cup. ​How much more do you really need to be happy as a tennis player?  So I think he’s actually  considering that everybody always is so negative around him, you know, especially in terms of the press, I think he knows what he achieved.  The players know it, too, and that’s why he’s so respected. ​His career is not over yet.  There are still things to achieve out there.  I’ve always enjoyed my matches with him. And, no, I don’t feel happy that I did any  I had a part in maybe making his career worse or better or whatever, you know.  Who knows, if I wasn’t around maybe somebody else would have been around, you know.  So you never know.
​Q.  As you know, there was earthquake disaster in Japan.  If you don’t mind, could you leave a message for the Japanese people.

​ROGER FEDERER:  Yeah, it’s been very sad news, of course.  I’ve followed, you know, what happened in Japan, and it was devastating, you know, to say the least. ​It’s always one of those natural disasters, that really, you know, touch everybody, to see those terrible pictures.  And then obviously thinking of my good times in Tokyo when I was there and good times I had, which I really enjoyed, you know, obviously the fans I have in that part of the world  or in Japan in particular, you know. ​I can only tell them that I’m thinking of them as well and that I wish them only the best and that they can rebuild and get stronger out of how it was before, because it’s not an easy situation right now.
​Q.  Kim Clijsters said yesterday that she wouldn’t go to Asia because of the radiation; she wouldn’t take her kids, et cetera.  Does that sound like anything that you would consider?

​ROGER FEDERER:  Um, I haven’t even thought about it yet because I’m not going to Asia, you know, in the next couple weeks.
​Q.  She said Shanghai.  She said no China.  No Japan.

​ROGER FEDERER:  Really?  No, it hasn’t even crossed my mind yet.  I will only think about that when the situation is right in front of me.  But we’ll get the green light or not from someone else, you know. ​At the end of the day you always have to take your own decision, but I don’t think it’s gonna be a problem by then, to be honest.
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Spotlight Miami: The Sony Ericsson Open Has Arrived

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Spotlight Miami: The Sony Ericsson Open Has Arrived

The Sony Ericsson Open singles draws for the women and men have been released.  There are a bevy of potential semifinal match-ups to salivate over.

On the ATP side, Rafael Nadal, the world number one may battle 2009 finalist Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals.

With Roger Federer dropping to the number three in the rankings, the Swiss could clash with Nadal in the semifinals.  Moreover, Federer may contend with defending champion Andy Roddick in the quarterfinals.

If the draw plays out according to the seeding, in the bottom half, David Ferrer and Robin Soderling will be slated to meet in the quarterfinals.  However, Juan Martin Del Potro could spoil that face-off.

Also located in the bottom section is the hottest player on tour, world number two Novak Djokovic. The Serb could have a rematch of this year’s Australian Open final in the quarterfinals with Andy Murray.

Whether it’s Del Potro, Ferrer or Soderling in the semifinals, at this stage, Djokovic seems ready to mow over all comers.

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Wozniacki Wards Off Bartoli for BNP Parisbas Open Title

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Wozniacki Wards Off Bartoli for BNP Parisbas Open Title

Last year, Caroline Wozniacki was disappointed in the final of the BNP Paribas Open by Jelena Jankovic.  Today, Wozniacki smiled from ear to ear as she held off Marion Bartoli 6-1, 2-6, 6-3 to capture the biggest title of her career.

Following a solid game to open the championship, Wozniacki connected with a backhand crosscourt winner to break and get a 2-0 lead.

Although Bartoli returned the favor by taking next game, Wozniacki rolled on winning the subsequent five games to pocket the first set.

The one sided scoreboard in the initial set belied the fact that Bartoli was playing very well.  As usual, Wozniacki was a bulwark from the baseline tracking balls which would have been winners against most competitors.

In the second set, Bartoli mixed it up more by coming to net, using the dropshot and exposing Wozniacki’s weaker stroke, the forehand.  From the get-go, Bartoli’s new strategy bore fruits.

After an ace to put a period on a tough game, Bartoli’s lob forced Wozniacki into an error.  Consequently, Bartoli had her second break point opportunity of the game which she converted with a forehand winner.

Promptly, Bartoli consolidated for a 3-0 advantage.  Despite not converting on another break point opportunity which would have given her a double break edge, Bartoli guarded serve for 4-1.

Later, as Wozniacki served at 2-5 to extend the second set, Bartoli induced a series of mistakes from her opponent and broke to push the match into a deciding set.

At that point, Bartoli appeared to have the upper hand.  Yet, with so many grueling rallies, fatigue began to play a part in Bartoli’s game with her shots having less authority than before.

Subsequent to a backhand error on game point, Bartoli watched Wozniacki produce a backhand pass winner for a second break point.  Wozniacki banked the break when Bartoli’s stroke landed long.

Once Wozniacki had consolidated, she arrived at triple break point when Bartoli netted a backhand.  Still, Bartoli managed to win the following five points to remain one break behind.

With Bartoli donating two double faults, Wozniacki broke at love to move ahead by a double break at 4-1.  Just when Wozniacki seemed in command, Bartoli roared back with a love break of her own and held for 3-4.

Wozniacki’s next time out was a love hold. Then, with Bartoli misfiring with a dropshot, Wozniacki had her second championship point.  As Bartoli’s backhand sailed long, Wozniacki claimed the title.

Bartoli was in tears after the match explaining “Caroline you made me cry . . .out of tiredness”.  Gracious in defeat, Bartoli recognized that the world number one was indeed worthy of the ranking:  “I am sure you will get a grand slam pretty soon”.

To her father, Bartoli expressed her love for the lone man in her box while Wozniacki had “a full box” saying “since I was five and a half when I hit my first tennis ball [you] were there, I hope [you] will be there until the last”.

Currently at seventeen, Bartoli will bump up in the rankings.  A semifinalist in Miami last year, Bartoli will hope to build on her great performance of the ultimate two weeks.

An overjoyed Wozniacki thanked Bartoli for her kind words and acknowledged today’s ferocious battle stating:  “I am sorry I had to beat you . . . It’s not like football where there’s a draw”.

Wozniacki was particularly happy that “every year I come back I have more and fans here.  It means so much to me”.

With her second title of the year, the first being in Dubai, Wozniacki goes into Miami with a heap of confidence.

Sony Ericsson Open defending champion Kim Clijsters retired from her fourth round match against Bartoli due to shoulder issues.  Thus, for Wozniacki hanging on to the number one spot may be easier the next few weeks as these two head to South Florida.

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