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Kuznetsova Bends But Doesn’t Break, Venus Moves On in Miami

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Kuznetsova Bends But Doesn’t Break, Venus Moves On in Miami


In the second round at the Sony Ericsson Open, Svetlana Kuznetsova was pushed to three sets by China’s Shuai Peng.  But, Kuznetsova, the top seed, averted an upset with a 6-2,3-6,6-4 win.

After dominating in the opening set, Kuznetsova was broken early in the second.  Despite numerous chances to get back on serve, Kuznetsova’s failed to capitalize because of an inconsistent forehand.  In the decisive third set, Kuznetsova obtained the early edge for a 3-1 lead.  However, with a strong forehand stroke causing the error by Kuznetsova then a superb return, Peng erased the break deficit.  Later on in the set, Kuznetsova captured the crucial break allowing her to seal the victory.

Subsequent to the match, MiamiTennisNews asked:
Q.  Seems like your forehand has been off lately.  What’s going on there?
Kuznetsova:  Actually, it’s good.  But just getting a little bit–I’m frustrated  because I’m not making, but I feel it good.

Q.  Do you fell more pressure after winning the French.  Are you putting more pressure on yourself?
Kuznetsova:  I don’t put pressure.  I just get disappointed when I’m not playing good enough.  That’s it.

Peng’s compatriot, Li Na, 2010 Australian semifinalist and 8th seed, was equally unlucky as Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky after multiple opportunities to win in straight sets, prevailed in a third set tiebreaker 6-4,4-6,7-6.  In other matches, Marion Bartoli, the 11th seed, had no problem with Magdalena Rybarikova 6-2,6-4 .  After losing the first set, Sabine Lisicki retired due to injury against Yaroslava Shvedova.

Andrea Petkovic bested 10th seed Flavia Pennetta 6-3,3-6,6-0 .  Although her serve is still problematic, Ana Ivanovic came through in her match against Pauline Parmentier 6-4,6-3.  After a tricky initial set, 6th seed Agnieszka Radwanska cruised in the second set for a 7-5,6-0 victory over Ekaterina Makarova.  Surprisingly, Agnes Szavay squashed Alicia Molik 6-0, 6-0.

Once more this year, Gisela Dulko ousted a seeded player, this time she victimized Alona Bondarenko 7-5,6-2.  Up and coming Frenchwoman Aravane Rezai had her tournament cut short as the 18th seed went down to 19 year old wildcard Petra Martic.  30th seed Anabel Medina Garrigues and 31st seed Aleksandra Wozniak fell to Roberta Vinci and Polona Hercog respectively. Yanina Wickmayer, Nadia Petrova, Daniela Hantuchova, and Roberta Vinci are through to the third round.

In the night session, meeting for the first time, Venus Williams battled Sorana Cirstea.  Down love-40, Venus double faulted at 2 all to give Cirstea the break.  Serving at 4-3, Cirstea netted a backhand hand digging herself a triple break point hole.  Venus converted when Cirstea committed another backhand mistake.  Then, Williams broke a second time at love to carry the first set.

Again in the second set, Cirstea drew first blood.  With a blazing return, Cirstea set up triple break point and capitalized by forcing Venus to push her forehand long.  However, the next game, Venus leveled the set at 2 a piece.  Later, after erasing break point, Williams obtained a third break point with a backhand miscue by Cirstea.  Venus secured the break for 5-3 when Sorana dumped a forehand into the net.  With an easy hold, Venus closed out the match 6-4, 6-3.

Yesterday, the ATP first round matches were also completed with lucky loser Nicolas Lapentti reaching the second round joined by Juan Ignacio Chela, Dudi Sela, Thiemo De Bakker, Michael Berrer, Philipp Petzschner and Kevin Anderson.  Mardy Fish was the only male American to advance yesterday as Ryan Sweeting, Rajeev Ram were both eliminated.

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2008:  A Year Full Of Surprises On The Women’s Tour

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2008: A Year Full Of Surprises On The Women’s Tour


img_2867As another season concludes on the WTA, its is only fitting to reflect on the moments that branded it and look forward to what might be in store for 2009.

The Russian onslaught continues with half of the players ranked in the top ten coming from that nation. One of the pack’s standouts, Maria Sharapova, bulldozed over her opponents to win the year’s first major in Australia. However, after an impressive winning streak, Sharapova went on forced sabbatical due to an old shoulder injury resurfacing. Dinara Safina and Vera Zvonareva finally lived up to their promise, as these two had a phenomenal run in 2008. Sporting new coaches, these two women known for their volatile outburst on court, bottled their tempers which translated into great results. Safina’s newfound mental solidity carried her all the way to the French Open final. For her part, Zvonareva was a finalist at the year-end Sony Ericsson Championships where she lost a heartbreaking match to Venus Williams. Moreover, this powerhouse of tennis swept the medals at the Olympics with Elena Dementieva taking gold, Safina silver, and Zvonareva bronze. In team play, the Russians were also supreme, crushing Spain to grab another Federation cup.

The Serbians also became more firmly entrenched in the sport. After her defeat in the Australian final, Ana Ivanovic claimed her first major in Paris. Compatriot Jelena Jankovic made her first majors’ final appearance at the U.S. Open, but lost a tough three setter. As a result of the French Open title, Ivanovic captured the number one ranking. But with a niggling thumb injury, Ivanovic struggled the remainder of the year. On the other hand, Jankovic overflowing with confidence after her great U. S. Open showing, won three straight tournaments and finished the year at number one. Jelena is the third player after Lindsay Davenport and Martina Hingis to hold that honor despite failing to earn a major trophy.

The Williams sisters persist as the beacon of light of American tennis with Venus shining on her best surface, the grass at Wimbledon. Venus seized her fifth title at sister Serena’s expense. But the latter’s tears were short-lived as the siblings took the Wimbledon doubles title and repeated with doubles gold in Beijing. Moreover, Venus showed that at 28, she still could keep up with her younger peers by winning both in Zurich and at the prestigious year-end championships. While Serena, no spring chicken herself, prevailed for the third time at the U.S. Open.

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Russia Sinks Spanish Armada To Claim Second Straight Federation Cup


Russia torpedoed Spain’s hope for a Federation Cup trophy by convincingly winning all four matches in the finals to defend its title in Madrid, Spain.

Saturday’s first rubber featured Russian Vera Zvonareva against Anabel Medina Garrigues, Spain’s top ranked singles player. After putting Garrigues on the defensive and making some spectacular forehand passes, Zvonareva built a 3-0 lead. But, the Russian committed several unforced errors, inviting Garrigues back in the match 3-2. Yet, after leading in her service game 40-15, Garrigues produced two miscues on the forehand and crosscourt backhand to let Russia gain the upper hand 4-2. Then, with a forehand down the line, Zvonareva secured the first set 6-3.

After taking a 2-0 lead in the second set, Zvonareva played two back-to-back poor service games and relinquished a break to Spain 2-4. Nevertheless, aided by Garrigues’ own misfiring, Zvonareva connected on a crosscourt forehand winner to get back on serve 3-4. Subsequently, Zvonareva pressured her opponent resulting in unforced errors to regain the break advantage. Ultimately, Zvonareva easily closed out the first rubber with a forehand crosscourt winner 6-4.

The second rubber between Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro and Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova gave the home team even less to cheer. The first game set the tone with Navarro broken at love. Navarro attempted to mix things up by coming to net, but her backhand repeatedly failed her resulting in Russia building a 4-0 advantage. With a forehand crosscourt winner, Kuznetsova took the first set 6-3. Using her weighty groundstrokes and versatility, Kuznetsova bullied Navarro to effortlessly win the second set 6-1 and give Russia a two match lead going into Sunday.

On Sunday, Garrigues faced Kuznetsova in the initial match. After racing to a 4-0 lead in the first set, Kuznetsova’s game went on a walkabout allowing Garrigues to comeback. Garrigues fought off five set points against her serve before prevailing 7-5. But, the home team’s elation was short-lived as Kuznetsova produced a forehand down the line winner to break 5-3 in the second set then served two aces to seal the set 6-3. In the third set, Russia got a prompt break thanks to multiple unforced errors from Spain. However, Spanish hope was rekindled when Garrigues forced an error from Kuznetsova to level things at 3-3. Yet, with a sensational drop shot Kuznetsova got the break right back 4-3. Eventually, Kuznetsova hung on to serve out the match with a strong game and clinched another Federation trophy for Russia 6-4.

The fourth rubber featuring doubles play was a technicality. Once again, the Russian team mowed over its Spanish counterpart, who looked out of sorts, with crisp volleys and strong groundstrokes 6-2, 6-1. This represents Russia’s fourth title in five years.

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