Tag Archive | "Indian Wells"

Nadal Axes Almagro at the Miami Open, Murray Also Moves on

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Nadal Axes Almagro at the Miami Open, Murray Also Moves on


IMG_3458_NadalThe twelfth contest between fellow Spaniards Rafael Nadal and Nicolas Almagro went the way many of the others have gone. Nadal posted a 6-4, 6-2 victory to advance to the third round at the Miami Open.

Almagro came in with a ray of hope after banking his maiden victory over the world number 3 last year in Barcelona. Today was the competitors’ third meeting on hardcourt and Almagro’s triumph materialized on clay a surface he excels at. Moreover, the latter’s 2014 season was marred by a foot injury requiring surgery. Almagro began 2015 on the right foot with a successful South American swing which culminated with a semifinal appearance in Buenos Aires.

Nadal hasn’t been sizzling on any surface of late. His 46th clay court prize in Buenos Aires a few weeks ago was his first since the 2014 French Open. The world number three’s best on hardcourt in 2015 has been quarterfinals at Indian Wells and Australian Open. Consequently, Almagro came in with a ray of hope.

With a flubbed forehand volley by Almagro, Nadal converted on break point in the initial set for 2-1. The 14 time major winner stared down three break points on his serve before securing the set.

In the second set, Almagro dumped a forehand into the net on double break point to place his opponent in the lead at 2-1. Shortly thereafter, Nadal bolstered his edge with a love hold. Later on, with a forehand winner, Nadal cushioned his position with an additional break for 4-1. At that stage, it was clear that Almagro would have to wait another day for the hope of a second victory over his compatriot.

In analyzing his performance, Nadal believes “I played a solid match. . .I had to put the balls in and play with no mistakes today with very tough conditions. . .my forehand worked well. . .I’m happy, Almagro was not an easy opponent for the first round”.

Nadal was disappointed with some aspects of his game with his loss at Indian Wells. Today, he was determined to “play with no mistakes on the important points. . .last week, I had a lot of opportunities in the quarterfinals. . . I didn’t have a lot of mistakes, he played well. But I lost the opportunities to convert. It’s important to change the dynamic of these things quick. Doing it in this match is important for me”

Commenting on the deluge which followed a few minutes after he was done, “sure important to finish the match before the storm arrived. . .But that can happen here in Miami. It’s nothing new”.

Four times the groomsman, never the groom, the Miami Open has been less kind to Nadal than Indian Wells, he possesses three of those trophies “it is true that Indian Wells has been a tournament that has worked better historically for my game. . .the bounces are higher. . .I like playing in [Miami]. . .some days can be very humid and hard for the body. But in general, they are the conditions I like to play tennis. . .Sea level, hot, no problem, I like to play tennis”.

With the weather delay, Nadal’s third round counterpart has yet to be established. It will be either countryman Fernando Verdasco against whom he has 13-1 mark or 23 year old Australian James Duckworth ranked 97th in a first meeting

Earlier in the day, two time Miami Open champion Andy Murray disposed of Donald Young in two sets 6-4, 6-2. Murray improves his record against the American to 5-1. After surrendering the opening set in a tiebreaker, world number eight, Stanislas Wawrinka knocked out Carlos Berlocq.

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Azarenka Powers into the Second Round at the Miami Open

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Azarenka Powers into the Second Round at the Miami Open


IMG_3100_AzarenkaVictoria Azarenka, the 2008 and 2011 victor at the Miami Open, booked her spot into the next round with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Spaniard Silvia Soler-Espinosa.

After a routine first set, the former world number one went down an early break. Down 1-3, Azarenka captured the next five games for the straight sets triumph.

For Azarenka, it’s a year of rebuilding after being sidelined by injury for most of 2014. As a result, the two time Australian Open champion and twice runner-up at the U.S. Open, has seen her ranking dip and is now at 49.

In evaluating her play today, Azarenka expressed, “I think it was a pretty good first set. . .second set there was too many mistakes in the beginning. . . I lost my momentum, and she led the way a little bit. But I’m glad I could turn it around and play well when I needed to. But I just would like to see a little bit more consistency from my game.”

The Belarusian realizes that there is plenty of work that will be required if she hopes to regain her usual form after her forced hiatus. Azarenka believes what is lacking “it’s just the match play. . . You can practice for as long as possible, but really to have that moment where you play, where, you know, you sometimes get nervous, you know, it doesn’t only depend on you. It also a little bit on your opponent. So all that is the more, the more match play.”

Once one has been to the mountain top, it’s hard to accept anything less than being top dog. Azarenka stated “I’m trying to be at No. 1. I don’t want to settle for anything else. It’s going to be a long road. I think patience is probably the most frustrating thing. I know the level I play at. I just need to make sure I can do that every single match and build my match endurance, my match confidence back up there. But I feel that my level is getting better and better”.

Azarenka is thrilled to return to Miami where in 2008 as a nineteen year old she lifted the trophy by beating Serena Williams. “I love this tournament. . .the field is very strong all the time for me. I’m just happy to play anywhere I can. Obviously coming back to a place where I have a lot of great memories, it’s always nice. . .it was my first big win here, and actually first win over Serena. It took me a while to get another one after that. . .That whole year was really my first big, consistent year on a high level. So I think I left a pretty good mark winning here.”

Next up for Azarenka is Jelena Jankovic, the 2015 finalist at Indian Wells. The two have not tussled since January 2014. Azarenka has vanquished the Serb six out of ten times. “It [will be] a tough match. Being an unseeded player, I’m going to have really difficult first couple of rounds. I’m looking forward to that. I just need to keep working on my game and trying to do my best every match. Jelena had such a great week in the past, so she’s playing with a lot of confidence. She’s always a dangerous player, so I just need to focus on myself and try to play my best.”

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Serena Williams on the Hunt for an Eighth Miami Title

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Serena Williams on the Hunt for an Eighth Miami Title


IMG_7084_Serena Only a few days after pulling out of the semifinals at Indian Wells, Serena Williams is set to compete for a record eighth trophy in Miami. Prior to her anticipated second round match, Williams answered questions for reporters about this tournament, her recent knee injury and expectations as 2015 moves along. Here is an excerpt below of what the 19 time major winner had to say.

Regarding the status of her knee, Williams stated “just trying to stay out of as much pain as possible and see what happens. . . [I will test it] probably my first match, if I get that far. I don’t want to put too much pressure on it before. . . I hit some balls today for the first time. I know I’m going to have to manage the pain. . . You have to figure out the best way around it”

Despite her injury, Serena iterated in terms of banking another Miami Open title “I definitely don’t have low expectations. . . I don’t feel any pressure because I have won this title a few times. I feel good about being here. . . I think every player has pain. . . Every match I play, I could be 10% in pain or I could be 80% in pain. . . Knowing ahead of time the problems that you’re dealing with and this is how you treat it, so you can play at a high level. . . Just something about Miami, I just feel good out here.”

Williams is living in the moment and not pondering what may be ahead. Although major number twenty is achievable, she commented “right now what’s realistic is 19. I think I have a chance to get 20. There’s is a lot of young players who want to get one. A lot of people want to increase their numbers. . . I just take it one at a time. Last year, I started thinking way far in advance and I couldn’t get past the fourth round at a Grand Slam. After that I won two in a row.”

At age 33 and with a horde of talented youngsters ranked right below her, the world number one is still viewed as the one to beat by her fellow competitors. Williams replied “I think it’s a compliment. . . I love what I do . . . I might not be good at many other things, I’m really good at playing tennis. . . I’ve always said if I am playing on a level that I know I can play. . .without pontificating, it’s difficult to beat me. . . It’s not easy to get to that level”.

Williams’ defense of her Miami title starts on Friday as she faces Monica Niculescu in the second round. The two collided in the same round last week at Indian Wells. Serena had to overcome her emotions, after being absent over a decade at that tournament, before prevailing in two tough sets. Consequently, for an injured Williams, a victory against the crafty Romanian may not be a given.

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Sharapova Keeps on Trucking, Kerber Ousted at Sony Open

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Sharapova Keeps on Trucking, Kerber Ousted at Sony Open


IMG_4657_Sharapova
Maria Sharapova’s quest to capture both the Indian Wells and Miami titles in the same season is still on track. Today at the Sony Open, Sharapova bounced countrywoman Elena Vesnina 6-4, 6-2 to book her spot into the fourth round.

At their last showdown in 2010, it was Vesnina who recorded the victory over Sharapova. With these two tied in their head to head 1-1 and Vesnina winning her maiden WTA title in Hobart this January, a decent row was expected between these Russian rivals.

Vesnina got off the block strongly with a love hold to start the match. After Sharapova’s double fault resulted in triple break point, Vesnina later converted for 3-1 when her counterpart misfired with a forehand stroke.

Yet, Sharapova promptly struck back with a break of her own to level the first set at 3 all. Another perpetual game ensued where on a fourth break point opportunity, Sharapova capitalized for 4-3.

Soon, Sharapova consolidated for 5-3. Despite being challenged on serve, the world number two eventually bedded the opening set.

Subsequent to an interminable game to arrive at 1 a piece. Sharapova manufactured triple break point and cemented a 2-1 lead. Henceforth, Sharapova was on cruise control securing a second break and ultimately closing out the last set easily.

Does one game give a glimpse into the outcome of a match? Perhaps. Looking back on the seventh game of the first set, Sharapova stated “I was down 1-3. . . I felt I had a bit of momentum. . . It was a really long one, I was ready for a water break. . .It was a very important game”. Considering the blistering wind and the hot temperature, Sharapova expressed that it was “one of those days when you know you might not be playing your best tennis. . . I got through and on to the next one”.

Depending on how Serena Williams performs in Miami, Sharapova could regain the number one ranking. On the subject, Sharapova cited “it’s always a great position to be in when you put yourself in a position to be close to No. 1. . . I don’t take that for granted. . . But I also know that it’s important to be levelheaded and think about the next [match] rather than the end result. . . So my theory is just to try to win . . .matches. . . and that gives you a better chance to be on top.”

Next up for Sharapova will be Klara Zakopalova. The latter defeated Maria Kirilenko 7-6, 6-4. Sharapova has bested Zakopalova in four of their five meetings, the last one was in Doha this February.

Earlier in the day, sixth seed Angelique Kerber was booted by Sorana Cirstea 6-4, 6-0. Cirstea will clash in the fourth round with Jelena Jankovic who defeated Nadia Petrova.

American teenager Lauren Davis’ run was halted at the third round by Alize Cornet who triumphed in three sets.

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Sharapova Picks Up French Open Title to Complete Career Slam

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Sharapova Picks Up French Open Title to Complete Career Slam


Eight years after clenching her first major quarterfinal, ironically at Roland Garros, Maria Sharapova can finally call herself French Open champion. Sharapova dispatched Sara Errani, a surprise finalist, 6-3, 6-2 to obtain the career grand slam. Twice a semifinalist in 2007 and 2011, Sharapova now had a golden shot at grabbing the ultimate prize. While this was the third consecutive year that an Italian woman was battling for the title in Paris, for Errani ranked 24th in the world, this was her maiden major final appearance. Experience was certainly key at the start of the match as Sharapova broke on a backhand miscue by Errani to race to a 2-0 advantage. Subsequent to consolidating, Sharapova struck a backhand winner for a double break edge. Aided by two double faults from her opponent, Errani secured her first game and held to narrow the deficit to 2-4. Yet promptly, with a love game, Sharapova extended her lead to 5-2. After Errani fought off double set point to guard serve, Sharapova connected on her third set point with backhand down the line winner. By carrying the opening set 6-3, Sharapova had one hand on the French Open trophy. The second set unfolded similarly to the initial one with Sharapova breaking Errani at love to capture the early break. But, Errani overcame the effect of being a first time finalist at a major and tried to claw her way back. Despite the Italian’s defiance, Sharapova went ahead 2-0. Subsequent to a difficult game, with Sharapova’s backhand sailing long, Errani had a break point. But, Sharapova would not be denied and maintained serve for 3-1.

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Djokovic Retains Sony Ericsson Open Title

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Djokovic Retains Sony Ericsson Open Title



Novak Djokovic banked his 30th ATP title in Miami. The world number one downed Andy Murray 6-1, 7-6 to capture his third trophy at the Sony Ericsson Open. Djokovic became the first player to successfully defend at this event since Roger Federer in 2005-2006.

This was a repeat of the 2009 Miami final. On that occasion, Murray hoisted the big prize. The Brit was appearing in his third final of 2012, victorious in Brisbane and beaten by Federer in Dubai.

At this juncture in 2011, Djokovic was 24-0 with the Australian Open and BNP Paribas Open under his belt. Since winning at the Australian Open, Djokovic has had two defeats, each in the semifinal stage, one of them to Murray.

Out of nowhere in the opening set, after leading 40-0, Murray made two consecutive backhand errors and allowed Djokovic to later get to deuce. Down the road, three successive backhand miscues by Murray resulted in Djokovic converting.
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Radwanska Derails Sharapova for Sony Ericsson Open Championship

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Radwanska Derails Sharapova for Sony Ericsson Open Championship



In front of the biggest crowd in attendance for a women’s final since 1998 at the Sony Ericsson Open, Agneiszka Radwanska, the world number four, who has been impressive the last twelve months surprised world number two Maria Sharapova 7-5, 6-4 to bank her first title in Miami.

These two ladies had battled eight previous times with Sharapova coming out on top on seven occasions. Radwanska’s sole win was as an eighteen year old at the U.S. Open in 2007. Consequently, all seemed in Sharapova’s favor as she tried to capture her first Sony Ericsson title after being disappointed on three prior tries, the last in 2011.

Sharapova always the aggressor had her initial break point of the opening set by striking a winner. Yet, with her forehand traveling long, Sharapova could not capitalize. Thus, Radwanska held for 3-2.
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Sharapova and Radwanska to Decide Sony Ericsson Open Title on Saturday

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Sharapova and Radwanska to Decide Sony Ericsson Open Title on Saturday



The ladies Sony Ericsson Open final will be contested between the world number two and four. Maria Sharapova will have to fend off Agnieszka Radwanska in order to claim her first title at this tournament.

Radwanska, a maiden finalist in Miami, has been in great form the last twelve months. The Pole has already pocketed a big title in Dubai and is at a career high in the rankings.

Previously, Sharapova had reached three finals at Sony Ericsson Open in 2005, 2006 and 2011. Moreover, Sharapova is seeking her initial title of the year after being stopped by world number one Victoria Azarenka at the Australian Open and Indian Wells.
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Sharapova Hangs on to Reach Fourth Sony Ericsson Open Final

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Sharapova Hangs on to Reach Fourth Sony Ericsson Open Final



Maria Sharapova out dueled Caroline Wozniacki 4-6,6-2,6-4 to advance to her second successive final at the Sony Ericsson Open.

Sharapova saw a 4-1, double break lead disappear in the first set as her serve collapsed. Wozniacki captured five consecutive games to steal the opening set.

Still Sharapova was able to turn the match around. Subsequent to breaking the initial game and holding, Sharapova struck a forehand winner to again build a double break advantage.

This time around by racing ahead 5-1, Sharapova was able to ultimately close out the second set.

The third set after failing to convert on a bevy of break points, Sharapova finally banked the break for 3-2. Then, the Russian seized another break for 5-2.

Despite Wozniacki resisting, salvaging a match point and narrowing the deficit to 4-5, the second time of asking, Sharapova put the match to bed.

A three time finalist at the Sony Ericsson Open including last year, Sharapova will attempt to grab her initial title in South Florida. Sharapova is also striving for her first trophy of 2012 after being second best to Victoria Azarenka at the Australian Open and Indian Wells.

Sharapova’s opponent will be either Marion Bartoli or Agnieszka Radwanska, their match will take place tonight. Sharapova has a winning record against both ladies despite not competing against Bartoli since 2010.

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Djokovic Edges Nadal in Sony Ericsson Open Final

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Djokovic Edges Nadal in Sony Ericsson Open Final



Novak Djokovic kept his winning streak and perfect season alive today. Djokovic defeated Rafael Nadal in the final of the Sony Ericsson Open 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 to win his second title in Miami and his fourth consecutive of the season.

It was the second week in a row that Nadal and Djokovic, world number one and two respectively, were meeting in a Masters 1000 final. The last time the top two players clashed for the title at this tournament in1995, number two Andre Agassi beat number one Pete Sampras in a third set tiebreaker.

With a backhand up the line pass for a winner on his second break point opportunity, Nadal obtained a 2-1 advantage. It was the first time, Djokovic had dropped serve this tournament.

After going down double break point, Nadal found the equalizer. The Spaniard survived another break point before consolidating for 3-1.

Then, Nadal captured a second break for 4-1. The Spaniard salvaged another break point before widening his lead to 5-1. Nadal dropped serve trying to close out the set the first time around. But, despite difficulties, on his second attempt Nadal banked the set.

After wasting multiple break points in the initial set, Djokovic aided by errors from Nadal seized the break for 2-0 in the second. Subsequent to wiping out a break point, Djokovic consolidated for 3-0 when Nadal’s slice backhand found the net.

Djokovic pressured Nadal on serve while having an easier time himself. At 40-0, Djokovic sent a beautiful lob for a winner to stretch his gap to 4-1. Ultimately, with an ace on triple set point, Djokovic threw the gauntlet for a deciding set.

The opening game of the third, Nadal overcame love-30 to hold. Serving at 1-2, Djokovic battled a similar predicament and got to 2 all. As the set progressed, despite a few 15-30 or 0-30 games, neither manufactured a break point. Fittingly, the championship was settled by a tiebreaker.

The first four points of the tiebreaker, neither competitor maintained serve. When Nadal double faulted, Djokovic had a mini-break at 3-2. With Nadal’s next two strokes sailing wide, Djokovic had a 5-2 cushion.

Following, Djokovic struck a forehand winner down the line for 6-2 and four championship points. Although Nadal won the next two points, on his third opportunity, Djokovic connected on forehand winner to pocket the trophy.

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