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Bacsinszky Upsets Halep at the Miami Open

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Bacsinszky Upsets Halep at the Miami Open


Karen Pestaina @TennisNewsTPN

The women’s upsets continued at the Miami Open on Tuesday when No. 5 seed Romanian Simona Halep lost to No. 19 seed Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the quarterfinals.
The Swiss player backed up her defeat of the No. 3 seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the fourth round for her second straight win over top five players.

It marked the first time that Bacsinszky had even taken a set off of Halep.
For the Swiss, it’s been five years since she last made an appearance at Key Biscayne and this year, making the semifinals is by far the longest run she’s made in the tournament.

After Halep took a tight first set, Bacsinszky jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the second set to take control. The Swiss notched two breaks early in the third set to go up 3-0 and never had to look back.

After her first service break in the second set, rain halted play for 10 minutes.

Bacsinszky’s effective use of the slice, movement and varied game, put her opponent off guard throughout most of the almost two-and-a-half-hour match.

“Well, in the second set I think I was pushing her to play long rallies,” she said. “I was like probably trying to hide where I was playing; then she was like — she couldn’t be able to guess if it was on the backhand or the forehand.

“Well, even though I felt that she raised her level and her intensity at the end the second set, I stayed — I’m happy that I stayed really strong. I felt that she was like going up, pushing, pushing, but I showed that, Okay, I’m here. I know you’re pushing, but I can keep the level.

“Then it helped me a lot for the third set. I raised then probably my intensity at the beginning of the third set and it made a big gap between us.”

With Halep out, the only top ten seed left in the women’s draw is No. 2 Angelique Kerber.

“The ranking is only a number,” said the Swiss in reference to beating two top five players, “so sometimes you can play very good, better than your ranking, and sometimes less good than your ranking is.

“So for the next match, I mean, obviously for sure it gives me a big confidence to have those two wins, but it doesn’t change that I’m going to have a fierce opponent and it’s going to be tough.

“I just hope I’m going to be able to play well — I mean, not especially well, but be efficient in the next match. Hopefully I win the last point. If not, then it’s okay. I’ll try for the next tournament.”

Bascinszky will next play Russian No. 15 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova for a place in the finals. Kuznetsova is fresh off of her win over No. 1 Serena Williams in the fourth round. In a topsy-turvy match, Kuznetsova defeated Ekaterina Makarova 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-4 to reach the semifinals.

In the first set Kuznetsova lead 5-2, 40-0 and also served for the set at 5-4 but could not close the set when errors crept into her game, especially on her powerful forehand side. Makarova took advantage and won the set in a tiebreak 7-6(3).

Kuznetsova was broken serving for the second set at 5-3, but broke Makarova right back for the third break in the set to even the match at one-set all.

The two-time major winner started off the third set, digging out of a break point to hold then break for a 2-0 lead. Makarova got the break back in the seventh game drawing closer to her countrywoman at 3-4. Kuznetsova battles for the break back and served for the match at 5-3. This time the 15th seed held to close out the match in two-hours and forty-four minutes.

Kuznetsova has a 2-0 record against Bacsinszky. Their last meeting came in 2012 at Indian Wells when the Swiss retired down 6-3, 2-0.

For Kuznetsova, who won the Miami Open in 2006, this will be her first trip to the semifinals since 2009. Should Kuznetsova win the tournament, she would move back into the WTA top ten.

Wednesday’s women’s quarterfinal match-ups will pit 13th seed Victoria Azarenka against 24th seed Johanna Konta and No. 2 seed Angelique Kerber faces No. 22 seed Madison Keys.

Karen Pestaina is a contributor to MiamiTennisNews. She writes for various tennis and news outlets and is the Editor-in-Chief of Tennis Panorama News. Follow her on Twittter @TennisNewsTPN.

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Serena Williams Seizes Her Eighth Miami Open Title

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Serena Williams Seizes Her Eighth Miami Open Title

IMG_9003_SerenaBy choosing South Florida as her base and lifting the trophy on seven prior occasions, the Miami Open is Serena Williams’ home. Consequently, this afternoon, first time finalist Carla Suarez Navarro needed to play the match of her career to steal the title from the two time defending champion. Williams romped Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2, 6-0 for a third successive Miami Open trophy, her eighth overall.

After coasting through the early stages, Serena averted close calls in the quarterfinals and semifinals. First, Williams fought off Sabine Lisicki 7-6, 1-6, 6-3, the player who ended her bid as defending champion for a sixth Wimbledon prize in 2013.

Next up, the world number one clashed with Simona Halep, the 2015 titlist at Indian Wells. Ironically, the Romanian received a walkover into the final from Williams at that event because of an inflamed knee. A match fit Serena battled herself, her opponent and the Romanian partisans but eventually prevailed 6-2, 4-6, 7-5.

The opening game was a glimpse of how the proceedings would unfold as Serena held at love. For a short time, Suarez Navarro managed to keep up and in the fifth game was at 30-30. However, with two aces, Serena moved ahead 3-2.

After the Spaniard dismissed double break point, Serena provoked a few errors and capitalized on her third break point. The American easily consolidated for 5-2. With another break, 17 winners, 8 unforced errors and in just 32 minutes, Williams secured the set.

Prior to the second set, Suarez Navarro conferred with her coach. His advice was to “change the rhythm, serve better, get the shots deeper”. Consequently, the first game of the second set, the Spaniard arrived at break point. But, with an ace, Serena dismissed the sole break point she stared at the entire match. Swiftly, Suarez Navarro surrendered the next game. The Spaniard won only two more points in the remainder of the match.

Suarez Navarro has yet to capture a set from the world number one in their five meetings. Moreover, this was Serena‘s fifth love set.

There were mixed feelings for Suarez Navarro after she shocked Venus Williams in the quarterfinals, then dispatched world number nine Andrea Petkovic to advance to the biggest final of her career, at one of only four mandatory premier tournaments.

The 26 year old expressed “ I came into the final with the firm belief that she could win.. . It was difficult to compete with her, I tried to be solid, however, with her strength it proved to be impossible.”

Still, Suarez Navarro affirms that “Serena is not unbeatable, she has more experience and success. People are aware that she beatable. But you have to play at a high level. My plan is keep believing and to work hard.”

Despite the score, Suarez Navarro attested that “ I enjoyed the tournament. it’s worth the pain, I fought till the end, you learn from these moments”. For her efforts, when the rankings are released, Suarez Navarro will be rewarded with the number 10 spot. Furthermore, she is the first Spanish female in the top ten since Conchita Martinez and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario.

Every time Serena step on the court, she climbs a new benchmark. This week, she joined the exclusive 700 wins club, only the eighth female player to reach that mark.

In 2013, she surpassed Steffi Graf‘s all time record of five trophies at the Miami Open. Following her tenth final at the Miami Open, with losses only to Venus in 1999 and Victoria Azarenka in 2009, Serena cited “it feels really good to have eight under my belt. Can’t say I thought I would win, especially at the beginning of the week. . .each one is special. Some finals are long; some finals have been shorter. At the end, each one is a lot of hard work. ”

Yet, Williams’ celebration was muted “I was so focused out there today. When you’re winning 5-Love, 40-Love, it’s not a surprise. . .you’ve kind of accepted that you’re going to win . . . It’s different if it’s 5-All or 7-5. You don’t know which way it’s going to turn.”

Serena is only the fourth WTA competitors to bank the same title at least eight times. Will she be aiming for twelve at the Miami Open? Martina Navratilova won Chicago that many times “I hope not. Because I would still be here  I would be how old? Let’s pray that I don’t get to 12.”

With her 66th career prize, Serena is one title away from knotting Billie Jean King at number six on the roll call. Serena’s goal for the clay season “ I just want to stay consistent and get a little more fit. . . you have longer matches. I’m looking forward to the challenge and looking to have fun.”

By collecting her 19th major at the Australian Open, Serena is for the sixth time in a position to pull off the calendar grand slam. Furthermore, Jennifer Capriati was the last person to hold both the French and Australian in 2001 “I don’t know if I can do it. I’ve never done it. . .I don’t think it’s necessarily tough. I just think that sometimes the tournament’s hard and you fall at the wrong time.”

For now, Serena will relish her recent triumph in Miami. Who knows one day instead of stadium court, it will be Serena Williams Stadium.

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Serena Schools Bellis to Get to the Fourth Round at the Miami Open

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Serena Schools Bellis to Get to the Fourth Round at the Miami Open

IMG_8162_Serena_BWAfter her second round win, Catherine Bellis was asked how she would approach an encounter with Serena Williams “it’s going to be really fun. I’m just going to play my game and see what happens. . .it’s just another opponent”. The 15 year old got the memo today that Williams is not ‘just another opponent’. The world number one required only 41 minutes to crush the youngster 6-1, 6-1 and stay on track for her eighth Miami Open title.

The 19 time major winner said in reference to her teenage counterpart “If you break down her age, her ability, how well she handled the moment and how well she played, I think it was good.. It wasn’t like, Oh, I’m so happy to win this match. . .it was tough. . .she’s young and her being an American, you want to see people like her do well. So when you’re up against them you have to kind of put that aside. Even though I’m always cheering for her.”

Williams was sympathetic toward her competitor “I never played that well at 15 to play the professionals, I was at school. I wasn’t good enough. . I turned pro at 15 and lost 1-1 to Anne Miller . . .I didn’t play for another two years. So, yeah, I think she’s doing really well.”

Bubbly and smiling after the match, Bellis reflected “I was pretty nervous, she’s number one in the world and the best of all time for a reason. It was just a really good experience for the future. . . I have never played her before, never seen her in person, just on TV, she’s my idol. . .the stadium is huge. I like that kind of stuff, it was fun. . .She definitely hits really hard. . .[this match] was an eye opener for sure>”

In the fourth round, Williams collides with Svetlana Kuznetsova. The Russian hung on against Angelique Kerber to win in three sets.

World number three and 2014 French Open finalist Simona Halep kept her dream of a back to back premier event trophy alive with a 6-4, 7-5 victory over Camila Giorgi.

This grandstand match was a roller coaster ride. At two all in the initial set, the Italian committed three double faults on three of four points in the fifth game to gift Halep the break. Although Giorgi quickly reestablished parity, a sleuth of miscues in the ninth game resulted in another break which was the difference in that set.

In the second set, Halep and Giorgi traded multiple breaks. At 5-4, Halep served for the match and could not shut the door. Subsequent, to benefiting from a seventh break courtesy of various mistakes by Giorgi including an 11th double fault, on her second try, Halep got the win.

Following her first meeting with Giorgi who shocked Maria Sharapova last year at Indian Wells, Halep commented “it was a strange match because she hits very strong and very fast. . .I didn’t have time sometimes to adapt. . .But I just tried to move my legs more and just to be aggressive. . .I’m happy that I could win. She’s a tough opponent.”

Halep hoisted the most prestigious trophy of her career last week at Indian Wells. Today, the Romanian got her maiden fourth round berth at the Miami Open “I like to play here. . .I come from Indian Wells . . .and I have more confidence. I’m just trying to keep my mind very focused and to recover my body every day. . .I feel a little bit tired, but it’s normal. . .I’m just looking forward to improve more in my shots, and I just want to hit the serve better and better day by day.”

Halep’s fan club is growing daily. Despite Giorgi’s Argentinian connection, her parents are from there, the Romanian loyalists were the most vocal “everywhere I go I have many Romanians supporting me. I can say it’s amazing . . .I can hear my name on court. So it’s really nice. . .gives me more power to fight.”

On stadium court, Victoria Azarenka faced 2014 Indian Wells champion Flavia Pennetta. In the seventh game, with some bold play, Pennetta salvaged two break points to push ahead 4-3. Later, by smoking a forehand crosscourt pass by the Belarusian on triple break point, Pennetta was at 5-3. However, serving for the set, Pennetta faltered. The set’s owner was decided by a tiebreaker. The Italian capitalized on her third mini-break to pocket the set.

The second set was almost a mirror image to the prior. Pennetta banked on triple break point in the seventh game for 4-3. Still, Azarenka managed to recover and get to a tiebreaker. But, it would not be the two time champion’s day as a composed Pennetta went on to prevail.

In the next round, Halep collides with Pennetta. Eighteen year old Belinda Bencic joins the fourth round for the first time at the Miami Open. She takes on Sloane Stephens who was victorious in straight sets. Garbine Muguruza fell short against 2013 French Open finalist Sara Errani. Errani will play either Sabine Lisicki or Ana Ivanovic.

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Li Na, Radwanska, Venus roll into next round at Sony Open

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Li Na, Radwanska, Venus roll into next round at Sony Open

IMG_2397_RadwanskaSony Open No. 2 seed Li Namade it to the third round without striking a ball on Friday when her opponent Alisa Kleybanova pulled out of the tournament due to a viral illness. Kleybanova, is making a comeback from Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Kleybanova wasn’t the only withdrawal on the day for the women. No. 6 Simona Halep pulled out before her match due to a right toe injury.

2012 champion Agnieszka Radwanska stopped Romina Oprandi 6-0, 6-4.

“First of all, I started very well,” the No. 3 seed said. “She started to play much better in the second set and we had a lot of breaks and long games – it was tricky, and I was getting a bit nervous.

“But I was happy I could finish this match in two sets today.”

Other seeded winners on the day included (10) Dominika Cibulkova over Yvonne Meusburger 6-1, 6-2, (11) Caroline Wozniacki had to fight her opponent and the crowd when she topped Monica Puig 6-1, 1-6, 6-3, (15) Carla Suarez Navarro beat Chanelle Scheepers 6-4, 6-1 and (17) Sloane Stephens (17) won over Zarina Diyas 7-5, 6-3.

American Varvara Lepchenko pulled off the upset of the day on the ladies side of the draw by ousting No. 7 Jelena Jankovic 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (2). Other surprises included Barbora Zahlavova Strycova who topped 13 seed Roberta Vinci 6-4, 2-6, 7-5, Elina Svitolina stunned 21st seed Eugenie Bouchard 1-6, 6-1, 6-2, Ajla Tomljanovic defeated (30) Garbine Muguruza and young American Madison Keys stopped (31) Daniela Hantuchova 6-4, 6-2.

“I’m really happy about it,” Keys said. “I mean, I think I served well. I think that really helped me today.

The next challenge for Keys will be No. 2 seed Li Na.

“I mean, she’s a great player. She’s obviously done a lot in her career, so really happy to get through that one.”

“It’s such a good experience,” Keys commenting on the match-up in the third round.

“She’s a great player. She just won the Australian Open so she’s obviously doing well.

“Yeah, just a good experience and excited to go play.”

Former No. 1 and 29th seed Venus Williams moved on by beating Anna Schmiedlova 6-3, 6-3 in the night session.

For the 33-year-old who is playing her 15th Sony Open it’s her first match since winning the Dubai title last month.

“I have been working hard since then, and I feel really confident, you know, in every situation I’m in on the court.

“So I think that, you know, it was a big help for me in Dubai.”

“She’s competitive, a new player,” Williams said about playing Schmiedlova. “You never know what their game is really going to be like. I’d never even seen her play.

“But it’s obviously great to be in the next round.” She’ll play in the third round against Casey Dellacqua.

Karen Pestaina is a contributor in Miami. She writes for various tennis and news outlets and is the Editor-in-Chief of Tennis Panorama News. Follow her on Twittter @TennisNewsTPN.

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