Tag Archive | "Clijsters"

Serena Williams Carves Her Place Along Side the Elites with Her 13th Major

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Serena Williams Carves Her Place Along Side the Elites with Her 13th Major


Undisputedly, Serena Williams adores the spotlight and Wimbledon is the Oscars of the tennis stage.  In the finals at the All England Club,  defending champion Williams overpowered Vera Zvonareva, the 21st seed, 6-3,6-2 to win her fourth Wimbledon trophy and her thirteenth major overall surpassing the great Billie Jean King.

Zvonareva was making her debut in the finals at a major and Williams did not rely on first timer jitters to knock out her opponent.  In 2004, an intrepid teenage newcomer seeded 13th, Maria Sharapova stunned world number one Williams to take the Wimbledon title.  From the very first game, Serena demonstrated that she had learned her lesson.  With a backhand down the line winner, Williams held at love to open the match.  Showing no nervousness, Zvonareva carried her first game easily.  Despite throwing in two double faults and being pushed to deuce the next couple of games, Serena guarded serve to stay ahead 3-2.  When Zvonareva’s forehand up the line landed out of play, Williams had her first break point.  However, Zvonareva forced the miscues from Serena to level the set at 3 a piece. After Serena had no trouble guarding serve, Zvonareva double faulted on game point for deuce.  With a nice lob, Serena obtained another mistake from Zvonareva for her second break point of the game.  With an incredible running forehand up the line winner, Serena broke for 5-3.  Then, on her third set point, Serena caused Zvonareva to flub another forehand to pocket the set.

Under pressure, Zvonareva’s troubles multiplied in the second set.  By dumping a backhand crosscourt into the net, Serena earned a break point the first game.  When Zvonareva’s forehand missed its destination, Serena took the initial game.  Subsequently, with a backhand volley winner, Serena consolidated for a 2-0 edge.  From that point on, Serena never removed her foot from the accelerator.  With another smoking running forehand, Serena provoked a forehand miscue from Zvonareva for double break point in the fifth game.  Although Zvonareva saved those two, she sent another forehand into the net giving Serena a third chance.  This time Williams did not have to strike the ball, by double faulting, Zvonareva gifted her a 4-1 lead.  The remainder of the match, Serena surrendered just one point on her serve and with a love game to capture the championship.

After the match, Zvonareva had nothing but praise for her rival “you’re a great player and a great champion … you’ve shown great determination throughout the week”.  The Russian conceded “I’m a little disappointed . . . [but] Serena did not allow me to show my best”.  Zvonareva could not manufacture one break point.  Williams connected on 66% of her first serves and won 94% of those points. In addition, Serena did not loose a set on as she claimed the title.

Since the pain is still fresh, Zvonareva said it’s hard to see the positives. But the Russian admitted that when she reflects in a couple of hours, she will have a better perspective.  After all, “I’ve been dreaming of playing Wimbledon since I was a kid”.  Considering the hardship that Zvonareva has gone through the last year with her ankle injury, “I was doubting that I was going to ever play”.  Zvonareva expressed her gratitude to the people who have stuck by her and aided her to arrive at this moment including her surgeon who was present. Indeed, for Zvonareva, there’s a ton to be proud of.

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Blockbuster Showdown in the Fourth Round:  Sharapova v Serena and Henin v Clijsters

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Blockbuster Showdown in the Fourth Round: Sharapova v Serena and Henin v Clijsters


For the most part, the first week at Wimbledon has gone according to plan on the ladies’ side.  As a result, defending champion Serena Williams will square off in the round of 16 against the woman who beat her in the 2004 final, Maria Sharapova.  Similarly, the projected clash between Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters has come to fruition.  This means that tomorrow, two individuals will be disappointed.  Let’s analyze how we arrived at this point and what lies ahead in the second week.

Top seed Serena Williams has simply run through her opponents. Likewise, Sharapova has had little difficulty getting to this stage, sending her adversaries home in straight sets.  Serena and Sharapova have played seven times with the former winning five of those meetings.  Curiously, since the 2004 championship, the two have never battled on grass.  In essence, this will be their rematch.  A significant factor will be how well Sharapova serves.  If the Russian does well in that department, Serena could be in trouble.

Na Li and Agniezska Radwanska who face each other in the fourth round have yet to drop a set in getting this far.  Radwanska holds a 2-1 record against Li and both victories have been on grass.  But for both Li and Radwanska, the quarterfinals will be a tough ask with either Sharapova or Serena as a rival.

A definite stunner was the dismissal of French Open finalist Samantha Stosur in the first round by Kaia Kanepi.  Previously ranked as high as 18 in 2009, Kanepi’s placement dipped to 80.  After ousting another seed Alexandra Dulgheru in the third round, the talented Estonian is in the round of 16 .  Another surprise is Kanepi’s opponent in the fourth round, Klara Zakopalova.  The 28 year old had not gone pass the third round at a major previously.  Zakopalova advanced by bouncing 18th seed Aravane Rezai in the second round and trouncing 10th seed Flavia Pennetta in the third.

Caroline Wozniacki, the third seed, has been splendid on grass as she attempts to better her fourth round result from last year.  Jie Zheng, the 23rd seed, and Victoria Azarenka, the 14th seed, fell victim to Petra Kvitova in the second and third round respectively. Thus, Wozniacki takes on Kvitova in the round of 16.  The Dane carried their prior two matches.  Furthermore, with Kanepi or Zakopalova as a quarterfinal match-up, Wozniacki truly has a green light to the semifinals.

This was a disastrous week for the French Open winners.  The reigning champion Francesca Schiavone went out in the first round.  Last year’s title holder and 19th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova crashed out in the second round.  Ana Ivanovic, the 2008 victor, bowed out in the first round.  Hence, Ivanovic’s ranking of 45 will continue to head toward the cellar.

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Wimbledon Draw Offers the Potential for Another All Williams Final

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Wimbledon Draw Offers the Potential for Another All Williams Final


With the exception of 2004 and 2006 when the Venus Rosewater trophy was leased by Maria Sharapova and Amelie Mauresmo respectively, Venus and Serena Williams have been the proprietor of the Wimbledon title eight out of the last ten years.  In fact, the Williams sisters have been interchangeably the winner and runner-up the ultimate two seasons.   With Serena and Venus as the top two seeds in 2010, a three-peat in the finals is plausible.  However, with Justine Henin having reincorporated herself into the tour with the express objective of hoisting the Wimbledon trophy and compatriot Kim Clijsters a formidable force after rejoining the circuit last summer, a new decade may mark the end of the Williams’ dominance.  Here’s a preview of the draw and the potential obstacles for the chief contenders at the All England Club.

If the outcome is as anticipated, Serena will meet Maria Sharapova in the round of 16.  Despite struggling with her serve since her shoulder surgery, Sharapova has posted some good results the last couple of months.  Moreover, Sharapova reached the finals in Birmingham two weeks ago.  Thus, depending on how well Sharapova plays, the possibility of an upset is undeniable.  With the Birmingham title under her belt, Na Li is a secondary threat in Serena’s section.  A semifinalist in Australia where she loss in two  tiebreaker sets, Li has the weapons to irritate Serena if she gets to the quarterfinals.

Either French Open finalist Samantha Stosur or Caroline Wozniacki could be Serena’s semifinal opponent.  With her recent history at the French Open against Stosur, Serena may have her work cut out for her.  Beforehand, Stosur and Wozniacki may have to battle it out in the quarterfinals.  Looking further back, Wozniacki may have to deal with Victoria Azarenka the 14th seed in the fourth round and Stosur with Flavia Pennetta the 10th seed also in the round of 16.  Since clay is Pennetta’s best surface and with the Italian never making it pass the fourth round, Stosur should prevail.  For Azarenka, the finalist in Eastbourne, a knee injury may be the limiting factor regardless of the rival she faces.

Focusing on the bottom half of the draw, the Wimbledon grass seems to have restorative properties for Venus irrespective of her previous results.  With two titles and finalists status in Miami and Madrid, Venus is in stellar shape.  Venus’ path looks relatively unencumbered until the quarterfinals where she could battle Marion Bartoli or French Open reigning champion Francesca Schiavone.  Still with Venus’ past performance, the scales are heavily tipped in her direction.

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Makarova Pushes Past Azarenka In Eastbourne for First WTA Title

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Makarova Pushes Past Azarenka In Eastbourne for First WTA Title


In the finals of Aegon International, the ultimate warm-up tournament before Wimbledon, Ekaterina Makarova fought off an injured Victoria Azarenka 7-6,6-4 to grab her maiden WTA title and become the first qualifier to seize the trophy.

Ranked 100th in the world, Makarova has been in top shape the entire week.  The Russian took care of 6th seed Flavia Pennetta in the first round and dismissed compatriot and 2008 finalist Nadia Petrova in the second round.  Then, Makarova booted countrywoman Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarterfinals and upset French Open finalist Samantha Stosur in the semifinals.  Makarova continued her splendid performance by opening the first set with a comfortable game.  Subsequently, with a forehand up the line winner and an error by Azarenka, Makarova arrived at double break point.  With a forehand return winner, Makarova gained the break.  Later, despite a tough game where she dealt with a break point, Makarova extended her lead to 3-0.  With both knees strapped due to tendonitis, Azarenka continued to battle producing high quality tennis to remain one break behind.  With a backhand down the line winner, Azarenka had her second break chance.  However, using her lefty serve to her advantage, Makarova extricated  herself from trouble and closed the game with a backhand volley winner for 5-2.  But serving for the first set at 5-4, Makarova netted a backhand to hand Azarenka a break point.  When a second straight backhand crosscourt went array, Azarenka gained the break.  After Makarova fought off two break points to guard serve and Azarenka held at love, the set moved to a tiebreaker.  With a forehand crosscourt winner, Makarova obtained the mini-break early on.  Further on, with an error by Azarenka, Makarova stretched her lead to 5-1.  Although Azarenka narrowed the gap to 6-5, Makarova’s luck held as Azarenka misfired with the forehand as the ball skidded off the line which terminated the set.

Playing through the pain, Azarenka maintained serve readily her first few times out in the second set.  Then at 2 all, Azarenka double faulted to gift Makarova a break point.  Makarova capitalized when Azarenka’s forehand sailed long.  Still, by forcing two mistakes from Makarova and with a forehand up the line winner, Azarenka promptly had triple break point.  By placing her serve well, Makarova leveled the game at deuce.  Yet, the Russian had to wipe out a fourth break point before consolidating for 4-2.  Unwilling to surrender, Azarenka kept striking winners and guarding serve with relative ease.  Thus, with a forehand winner, Azarenka arrived at double break point.  But, once again the Belarusian was turned away by Makarova who advanced to 5-3.  After Azarenka had a love game, two miscues placed Makarova at double championship point.  With an overhead winner, Makarova ended the match and captured the championship.

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Dulgheru Repeats in Warsaw by Defeating Zheng in the Finals

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Dulgheru Repeats in Warsaw by Defeating Zheng in the Finals


Last year at the Polstat Warsaw Open, qualifier Alexandra Dulgheru, ranked 201st,  beat Alona Bondarenko in the finals.  As a result, Dulgheru became the lowest ranked player to prevail at this renamed event whose roll call of distinguished winners includes Justine Henin, Kim Clijsters and Venus Williams.  Again, this year, Dulgheru, now world number 32, clashed with a seasoned competitor, Zheng Jie. The 20 year old triumphed over Zheng Jie 6-3,6-4 to obtain her second WTA title.

After Zheng had no problem her first two games, she faced triple break point when Dulgheru fabricated a forehand dropshot winner. Once Zheng’s forehand crosscourt landed out of play, Dulgheru took a 3-2 lead.  Despite a difficult game, Dulgheru consolidated for 4-2.  Later, with a backhand down the line pass for a winner, Dulgheru captured a second break extending her advantage to 5-2.  Serving for the first set, Dulgheru double faulted on triple break point, reducing her lead to 5-3.  However, with a forehand up the line winner, Dulgheru had her fourth break/set point.  By crushing another forehand up the line, Dulgheru broke for the third time to secure the set.

Subsequent to a tough hold to open the second set, Dulgheru arrived at break point with a forehand crosscourt winner.  An error on the forehand crosscourt by Zheng allowed Dulgheru to seize a 2-0 edge.  Yet, with three consecutive mistakes, Dulgheru gave Zheng triple break point.  The Chinese woman got back on serve with a lob winner.  Soon, with a couple of timely winners, Zheng had triple break point.  When Dulgheru donated a double fault, Zheng captured the break for 3-2.  Promptly, Zheng consolidated for a 4-2 edge.  After Dulgheru held another hard fought game, she teased three straight miscues out of Zheng for triple break point.  By Zheng netting a backhand, the players were leveled at 4 a piece.  Then, by connecting with a forehand crosscourt winner, Dulgheru went in front 5-4.  With Zheng serving and ahead 40-15, Dulgheru produced a backhand winner and provoked an error to reach deuce.  After Zheng erased an initial break point, a miscue on a swing volley handed Dulgheru her second championship point.  Dulgheru sealed the victory with a backhand crosscourt winner.

Still, for Zheng, it has been a terrific tournament, reaching her first final since 2006.  Consequently, Zheng, the fifth seed and 25th ranked, will see a minuscule bump in her ranking.  Caroline Wozniacki, the number one seed, retired with an ankle problem after dropping the first set to Zheng in the semifinals.  While Elena Dementieva, the second seed, was booted out in the second round by qualifier Tsvetana Pironkova, third seed Li Na was bounced by Dulgheru in the semifinals and fourth seed Marion Bartoli in the first round.  Qualifier Greta Arn took out sixth seed and 2009 finalist Bondarenko in the quarterfinals, thereby continuing the alarming trend of top players falling this clay season.

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Stosur Smashes Zvonareva In Charleston Final

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Stosur Smashes Zvonareva In Charleston Final


By virtue of prevailing in their last four meetings, Samantha Stosur, the 4th  seed and world 11th, was favored to win over Vera Zvonareva seeded 7th and ranked 22nd  in the Family Circle Cup final.  However, Stosur’s 1-6 record in finals left plenty of room for pause.  With ten titles under her belt including one this year, Zvonareva had experience on her side.  Still, Stosur obliterated her prior performances from her mind and crushed Zvonareva 6-0,6-3 to become the first Aussie to conquer Charleston.

With three straight winners, Stosur opened with a love hold.  Following a forehand error by Zvonareva, Stosur had break point.  The Aussie captured the break with an overhead winner.  Then, by culminating another love game with her sixth winner, Stosur took a 3-0 lead.  Following three consecutive errors by Zvonareva, Stosur broke again.  Later, with another forehand winner, Stosur stretched her lead to 5-0.  With two forehand winners and a double fault donation by Zvonareva, Stosur arrived at double set point.  As a result of an error by Zvonareva, Stosur secured d the set.

In her previous matches, Zvonareva had not relinquished a set.  Considering a competitive encounter in Indian Wells last month despite Stosur being triumphant, it seemed a matter of time before Zvonareva struck back and Stosur cooled down. Yet, with a few more winners, Stosur readily held to start the second set.  Then, with a backhand down the line winner, Stosur obtained triple break point.  By converting a forehand down the line winner, Stosur claimed the break.  Subsequently, with an ace to close out a love game, Stosur sprinted to a 3-0 lead.  After two Stosur forehand winners and a double fault, Zvonareva stared at double break point.  Unable to bottle her frustration any longer, Zvonareva erupted by wrecking a racket.  Thereafter, the Russian won the next four point for 1-3.  Momentarily, Zvonareva appeared to have found the antidote to Stosur’s hot hand.  After holding for 2-4, because of a double fault and two forehand mistakes by Stosur, Zvonareva had double break point.  When Stosur sliced a backhand out of play, the players were back on serve.  Undaunted, Stosur resumed her relentless attack.  In forcing a miscue from her rival, Stosur fabricated double break point.  The Aussie followed that up with a forehand down the line winner for 5-3.  Quickly, with a forehand crosscourt winner, Stosur set up triple championship point.  Stosur guaranteed the trophy with a forehand crosscourt winner.

The Family Circle Cup, a WTA premier event, is the second and biggest title of Stosur’s career.  Last season in reaching the semifinals at the French Open, Stosur revealed she is a legitimate competitor on clay.  Even though those at the head of the class when it comes to favorites at the majors, Justine Henin, Kim Clijsters and Serena Williams were absent from this event; through this victory, Stosur demonstrates she will be a mighty contender this clay season as she climbs back into the top ten.

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Clijsters Clobbers Venus in 2010 Sony Ericsson Open Final

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Clijsters Clobbers Venus in 2010 Sony Ericsson Open Final


The grand duel predicted between Venus Williams and Kim Clijsters in the Sony Ericsson Open Final never materialized.   Instead, it was a 58 minute blow out as Clijsters ran away with the match 6-2, 6-1 to gather her second championship trophy in Miami.

After the semifinal with Justine Henin where Clijsters almost let the match get away, Kim knew that she would need to be well focused for the finals.  That’s exactly how Clijsters came out.  From the first game, Clijsters placed Venus’ serve under fire with two errors at 0-30.  Despite recovering to hold, this was a glimpse of how the rest of Venus’ day would unfold.  With Venus unable to find a first serve, Clijsters punished a second serve, forcing Williams into a forehand miscue for break point.  With another forehand error by Williams, Clijsters obtained the break for 2-1.  During the change over, Venus briefly called the trainer to re-wrap her left knee and right thigh.  Despite two double faults the subsequent game, Clijsters managed to get enough help from Williams in terms of mistakes to consolidate for 3-1.  The thinking was that Williams would rise up and challenge;  however, that did not happen.  Up 40-15, Venus botched an overhead then double faulted for deuce.  Williams also threw in a second straight double fault to give Clijsters break point.   When Venus netted the volley, Kim had a double break edge at 4-1. Thus, Clijsters sprinted away with the first set.

Still, the torture was only beginning  for Williams.  Subsequent to starting the second set with a double fault, Venus faced break point when a backhand crosscourt traveled long.  Despite erasing that with a good serve for deuce then getting to game point, Venus could not string together two consecutive points.  With a forehand up the line winner, Clijsters arrived at her second break point.  Venus allowed Clijsters the easy road to a second set lead by double faulting.  Following Clijsters consolidating with a love game, Williams shoveled herself into a 0-30 ditch.  At that moment, the crowd demanded a response from Venus with a round of applause.  Yet, this was to no avail.  Williams dumped another backhand into the net to face triple break point.  Unlike her match with Henin, Clijsters was not in a charitable mood.  Kim provoked a forehand crosscourt mistake from Venus to again widen the gap by a double break .  Next, with a backhand down the line winner, Clijsters grabbed an impressive 4-0 lead.  The subsequent game, Venus at least held to make the score respectable.  However, serving to lengthen the match, Venus committed her 29th unforced error to hand Kim triple match point.  With another flying forehand by Venus, Kim won the championship.

Taking nothing away from Clijsters, this was far from the performance expected from Williams, a 5 time Wimbledon champion.  Therefore, in the post match interview, MiamiTennisNews.com tried to ascertain exactly what the issue was with Venus:

Q.  Were you having timing issues with [your] serve today?
WILLIAMS:  No, . . . I think it was more or less my groundstrokes. . .  on my serve I go for it a lot, so that’s kind of the norm. . . I did start missing more first serves in the second set, so that didn’t help my cause.

Q.  Is it surprising to see how well Kim and Justine have done after their comeback and to just be able to go through a lot of top ranked players right off the [bat]?

WILLIAMS:  Yeah,. . . they’re playing really, really well.  This is just great and amazing for them.  They’re playing great.

After the match, Clijsters had this to say in reference to competing against someone who is struggling:  ” you constantly have to tell . . . and remind yourself to really keep [being aggressive and move forward], especially when you see that you have a second serve . . . it’s easier when things are really exciting and you’re both playing really [well] . . .  you almost have to be dominant and . . .  bring your best level.  But, when you feel like your opponent is not giving [her]  best tennis or bringing [ her] best tennis, you just really want to try . . . not focus on [her]  too much and just really focus on yourself.  [To] try to keep focusing on what you’re doing well.

For Clijsters, this win represents her 37th career title and her second of the year.  Kim prevailed in Brisbane over Justine prior to the Australian Open.  Clijsters’ ranking will move from 16 to 10 on Monday.  As a result of this defeat, Williams’ 15 match winning streak come to an end.  Regardless, Venus will get a slight bump in the ranking from 5 to 4.

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Main Event:  Venus and Kim in Sony Ericsson Open Final

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Main Event: Venus and Kim in Sony Ericsson Open Final


The women’s final is front and center this afternoon as Venus Williams and Kim Clijsters bang heads for the Sony Ericsson Open trophy.

Venus attempts to avenge her fourth round 2009 U.S. Open loss and to stop a three match skid to Clijsters.  If Venus is successful, she will claim her third consecutive title; her first in Miami since 2001 but her fourth overall.

For her part, Clijsters tries to prevail in her second final this year.  She defeated fellow Belgian Justine Henin earlier this year for the Brisbane title. The winner in Miami in 2005, Clijsters is looking for her second trophy.

Later, Max Mirnyi and Mahesh Bhupathi battle Lukas Dlouhy and Leander Paes in the ATP doubles final.  Mirnyi captured the title last year with partner Andy Ram and is going for a record fifth doubles championship in Miami.  His teammate this year has yet to seize this prize in Miami.

In the late afternoon, a benefit for the victims of the earthquake in Chile takes place.  “Champions for Chile” features doubles action with Jim Courier and Andy Roddick partnering to play against Chilean Fernando Gonzalez and Gustavo Kuerten.

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Clijsters Outlives Henin in Sony Ericsson Open Semifinal

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Clijsters Outlives Henin in Sony Ericsson Open Semifinal


For the most part, when Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin meet, the extraordinary performance by these players keeps spectators on the edge of their seats.  In the semifinals at the Sony Ericsson Open last night that was again the case. Still, moments of brilliance by both athletes were overshadowed by too many lows. In an error plagued match, Clijsters outlasted Henin 6-2, 6-7, 7-6 to secure her place in the finals along side Venus Williams.

With a forehand error by Clijsters, Henin got a break point in the opening game of the match.  However, as a result of superior serving, Clijsters held.  After an initial love service game, her next time up, Henin let a 40-15 game get away due to a string of forehand errors.  Thus, Clijsters obtained a break and promptly consolidated. As Henin served at 2-5, because of a volleying mistake, Clijsters arrived at double set point.  With an overhead winner, Clijsters broke Henin and claimed the set.

Clijsters’ domination persisted through the early phase of the second set; she broke Henin to put herself ahead 3-0.  Three games short of a straight sets victory, Clijsters’ play dove.  Serving at 3-1, Clijsters netted a volley and committed a double fault wiping out her break advantage.  Thanks to that invite, Henin equalized the set at 3 all.  Later on, with a return winner, Henin obtained a break for 6-5.  However, because of double faults and errors, Henin wasted a set point.  With a forehand up the line winner, Clijsters squared the set.  Nevertheless, Henin assumed control of the tiebreaker, prolonging the semifinal.

The last set, Henin produced a few sensational backhands to break at love for 2-0.  But, the subsequent game, two double faults, including one at love-40, permitted Clijsters entrance back into the match.  After readily holding, Clijsters broke Henin at love for the second straight time to capture her 4th successive game and a 4-2 lead.  Despite the serve repeatedly let her down, Henin was tenacious.  Henin’s swatted away another break point to stay one break behind at 3-4.  Aided by Clijsters’ double fault and a forehand crosscourt winner, Henin arrived at triple break point.  Because of a miscue by Clijsters, the set was leveled at 4.  Still, Clijsters was equally stubborn.  Her second opportunity, Clijsters broke for 5-4 with a backhand winner .  Yet, serving for the match, Clijsters double faulted on double break point.  Eventually, the set moved on to a tiebreaker.

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Venus Williams Bangs Up Bartoli to Reach Final in Miami

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Venus Williams Bangs Up Bartoli to Reach Final in Miami


Along with winning majors, Serena Williams has made a habit of hoisting the trophy in Miami, the “5th grand slam”.  In 2005 and 2009, Serena stopped sister Venus Williams from playing in the title match by beating her in the semifinals. Whilst Venus is disappointed that her sibling is unable to compete due to injury, she is perhaps relieved not to have to go through Serena to advance to the finals of the Sony Ericsson Open.  Today, Venus defeated Marion Bartoli 6-3,6-4 to book her space in the finals for the first time since 2001.

After a love hold, Venus got to triple break point when Bartoli double faulted.  Venus converted once Bartoli dumped a backhand crosscourt into the net.  Subsequent to erasing break point, with a backhand down the line winner, Venus extended her lead to 3-0.  In an atypical game where Venus committed two double faults, Bartoli was back on serve at 2-3.  However, after carrying the first point, Bartoli produced three consecutive double faults to hand Venus double break point.  Trying attain deuce, Bartoli contributed a fourth double fault to Venus’ cause, allowing the latter to get to 4-2.  With an easy game punctuated by a forehand winner, Venus consolidated for 5-2.  As Venus served for the set, Bartoli put up a fight.  Still, in the long run, Venus took the first set 6-3.

The second set by pushing Venus into errors, Bartoli broke at love for 3-1.  However, by doing the same the next game to her opponent, Venus got back on serve.  After each woman cancelled break point on her serve, Venus kicked into another gear and secured the break for 5-4.  Then, with two aces and a forehand volley winner, Venus arrived at triple match point.  Venus finally stamped her ticket into the finals when Bartoli’s return went out of bounds.

Since losing in the quarterfinals at the Australia Open to Na Li, Venus is on a 15-0 winning streak.  That includes defending titles back to back in Dubai and Acapulco.  In the Sony Ericsson Open final, Venus will contend with either Kim Clijsters or Justine Henin.  These two will do battle tonight.

Venus holds a 7-2 record versus Henin. But, at their last meeting, the 2007 U.S. Open,  Henin prevailed in straight sets.  Despite a 6-5 mark versus Clijsters, Venus has been on the wrong end their last three encounters including the 2009 U.S. Open.  Irrespective of the adversary that Venus faces, the finals possess all the ingredients for an excellent match.

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