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Serena, Sharapova advance to quarterfinals of Sony Open

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Serena, Sharapova advance to quarterfinals of Sony Open


IMG_7084_SerenaIn a tale of two different matches, expected results as No. 1 Serena Williams and fourth seed Maria Sharapova reached the quarterfinals of the Sony Open on Monday.

Williams dismissed American countrywoman qualifier CoCo Vandeweghe 6-3, 6-1 to reach the elite 8 in Miami for the 13th time in 14 appearances.

After her first two matches in the tournament she showed some rust, Williams cleaned up her game hitting 17 winners to only 11 unforced errors and stopping all six break points she faced.

“I was definitely happier today,” Williams said. “I was really struggling my first two matches, so I just wanted to have a better performance today.”

Next up for Williams will be the No. 5 seed Angelique Kerber, who beat Ekaterina Makarova 6-4, 1-6, 6-3.

“It will be good to play a different opponent,” Williams said. “I feel like I have played the same person three times in a row. It will be nice to play a lefty, someone that just plays different.

“Angelique has been able to beat me in the past, so I have to be really focused and be ready in that match.”

Maris Sharapova had to reset from a first set drubbing to beat Kirsten Flipkens 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.

The Belgium jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first set and Sharapova could only win five points during those four games. In the second set Sharapova jumped out to a 4-0 lead, then Flipkens won 4 out of 5 games, but Sharapova broke serve to take the set 6-4.

“I usually like playing the first match, but I didn’t start off the way I wanted to,” Sharapova said. “Nothing was working.”

Sharapova’s momentum carried over into the final set where she kept her errors low and her aggression high, dropping only one more game.

Final stats for Sharapova- 36 unforced errors, 13 winners and 10 double-faults.

Sharapova will play the woman she lost to in the 2011 Wimbledon finals, No. 8 seed Petra Kvitova in the quarterfinals. Kvitova regrouped to stop Ana Ivanovic 3-6, 6-0, 6-0.

“We haven’t played for a long time, but we have always had interesting, tough matches against each other,” Sharapova said.

Second seed Li Na took apart Carla Suarez-Navarro 6-0, 6-2.

Caroline Wozniacki continued her dominance over US players. For the second match in a row she gives up only 1 game in a 6-0, 6-1 win over Vavara Lepchenko.

In the night session, Dominika Cibulkova held back a fighting Venus Williams 6-1, 5-7, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals. In a rematch of the recent Australian Open semi Cibulkova will play Agniezska Radwanska.

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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Serena and Sharapova tested at the Sony Open

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Serena and Sharapova tested at the Sony Open


IMG_6261_SharapovaSerena Williams survived up-and-comer Caroline Garcia of France 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 to reach the fourth round of the Sony Open on Saturday.

Six-time Sony Open winner Williams is seeking to defend her crown and win a record–setting seven title.

The 20-year-old Garcia made Williams work – moving the 17-time major champ around the court and blasting serves which were clocked as fast as at 117 mph in the two-hour and 30 minute match.

“She plays well,” Williams said of Garcia. “I really gave myself a tremendous amount of trouble out there.”

“I think, granted she played great, but I made so many errors. I hit so short. It really isn’t the same player. I just have to do better.”

The world No. 1 committed 41 unforced errors during the match.

“It was a good match to play and it was good test for me because she’s good player and she’s always fighting a lot,” Garcia said.

Williams advances to the fourth round.

Maria Sharapova was pushed by Lucie Safarova 6-4, 6-7(7), 6-2 in an almost three hour contest. The No. 4 seed won the match on her ninth match point over a feisty opponent 56 minutes after her first match point which came in the second set tiebreaker.

Safarova saved 6 match points against Sharapova in the final game of the match with a series of winners.

At the end of the match, instead of a traditional handshake, the women hugged each other.

“She kept hitting unbelievable shots,” Sharapova said after the match. “One more. One more. I said, `How many chances are you going to get?’”

“I’m happy to be sitting here winning the match,” the Russian said in press. “Obviously it was tough to lose that second set after having a couple of match points, but I was really happy with the way I came out.”

The day was not without upsets as No. 9 seed Sara Errani fell to Ekaterina Makarova 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.

Kirsten Flipkens moved into the next round when No. 14 seed Sabine Lisicki withdrew from the tournament due to the flu.

Other seeds advancing on the day were No. 5 Angelique Kerber who beat Tsvetana Pironkova 6-0, 6-2, No. 12 seed Ana Ivanovic who topped Indian Wells winner No. 20 seed Flavia Pennetta 6-4, 6-3, No. 8 Petra Kvitova who beat teenqualifier Donna Vekic 6-3, 6-4.

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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Serena Williams, Sharapova Advance at Sony Open

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Serena Williams, Sharapova Advance at Sony Open


IMG_6153_Serena(March 20, 2014) World No. 1 Serena Williams had to dust off a little rust in the first set to beat Yaroslava Shvedova 7-6 (7), 6-2 in her opening match at the Sony Open.

The defending champion and six-time Key Biscayne title holder jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the opening set, only to see her opponent take the next four games. Williams broke Shvedova while she was serving for the set at 5-4. The set ended with a tiebreak, in which Williams fell behind 3-6. Williams rallied to save three set points and eventually win it 9-7 ending the set with a pair of aces and a backhand winner.

“It was an incredibly tough first set,” Williams said of the 69-minute set. “I just needed to relax and yet keep up the intensity.”

“Well, she was doing a little bit of everything, Williams said to media. She was hitting hard; she was hitting soft; she was doing a little bit of everything.

Things were back to normal for the 16-time major champion in the second set, winning the last 5 games of the set to give her the match.

The next opponent for Williams will be France’s Caroline Garcia.

Fourth seed Maria Sharapova joined Williams in the third round by beating Kurumi Nara 6-3, 6-4 to begin the Thursday night session in Key Biscayne.

“She made me work extremely hard today,” Sharapova said. “She’s a really quick opponent, got a lot of balls back, as you saw, made me hit a lot, and made me feel like ‑‑ tried to do too much in certain situations.”

Always a bridesmaid but never a bride at the Sony Open for Sharapova who has lost five finals.

“I have been close, and I have had my fair share of chances of winning the tournament,” said the Russian. “Obviously I’m still looking for that.

Among the other WTA winners on Thursday were fifth-seeded Angelique Kerber who squeaked past Peng Shuai 6-3, 1-6, 7-6 (5), No. 12 Ana Ivanovic who topped young American Lauren Davis 6-1, 6-1, and No. 28 Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 2006 champion, was upset by teen qualifier Donna Vekic 7-6 (5), 7-5.

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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Djokovic and Sharapova Top Billing at Sony Open On Sunday

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Djokovic and Sharapova Top Billing at Sony Open On Sunday


IMG_4289_Djokovic
Reigning champion Novak Djokovic takes the court on the first Sunday of the tournament. The Serb battles Somdev Dewarman in the third round as he attempts to pocket his third successive title at the Sony Open.

Four time finalist Maria Sharapova faces fellow Russian Elena Vesnina in the round of 32. Sharapova is trying for the second straight year to reach the finals at both Indian Wells and Miami.

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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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Sharapova, Djokovic, Federer and Serena Take Stadium Court at Sony Ericsson Open

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Sharapova, Djokovic, Federer and Serena Take Stadium Court at Sony Ericsson Open



World number two Maria Sharapova opens up the proceedings on stadium court on Monday at the Sony Ericsson Open. Sharapova collides with countrywoman Ekaterina Makarova. Sharapova leads 3-0 in their head to head.

Following that is another fourth round match as Serena Williams clashes with Samantha Stosur. This will be their first encounter since Stosur surprised Williams in the final at the U.S. Open.

Defending champion Novak Djokovic looks to continue his campaign for a third Sony Ericsson title. With a 10-1 record, the world number one is the overwhelming favorite as he faces compatriot Viktor Troicki.

The evening session begins with Roger Federer duking it out with Andy Roddick for a spot in the fourth round. Federer is 21-2 versus his opponent. Venus Williams and Ana Ivanovic close out the night as they tussle for a berth in the quarterfinals.

Also in action are Victoria Azarenka, Juan Martin Del Potro, Mardy Fish and Caroline Wozniacki.

Here is today’s complete order of play :

Monday, March 26, 2012

STADIUM Start 11:00 am

Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) v [2] Maria Sharapova (RUS) WTA

Not Before 1:00 PM
[6] Samantha Stosur (AUS) v [10] Serena Williams (USA) WTA
[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) v [27] Viktor Troicki (SRB) ATP
[11] Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG) v [23] Marin Cilic (CRO) ATP

Starting at 7:30 PM
[3] Roger Federer (SUI) v [31] Andy Roddick (USA) ATP

Not Before 9:00 PM
[WC] Venus Williams (USA) v [15] Ana Ivanovic (SRB) WTA

GRANDSTAND Start 11:00 am

[28] Kevin Anderson (RSA) v [8] Mardy Fish (USA) ATP
[12] Nicolas Almagro (ESP) v [20] Fernando Verdasco (ESP) ATP
[8] Na Li (CHN) v [12] Sabine Lisicki (GER) WTA

Not Before 4:30 PM
[1] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) v [16] Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) WTA
[21] Juan Monaco (ARG) v [14] Gael Monfils (FRA) ATP

COURT 1 Start 11:00 am

[17] Richard Gasquet (FRA) v Albert Ramos (ESP) ATP

Not Before 1:00 PM
[6] Mahesh Bhupathi (IND)/Rohan Bopanna (IND) v
Marcel Granollers (ESP)/Rafael Nadal (ESP) ATP
[30] Julien Benneteau (FRA) v [5] David Ferrer (ESP) ATP

Not Before 4:30 PM
[23] Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) v [4] Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) WTA
Colin Fleming (GBR)/Ross Hutchins (GBR) v
[7] Leander Paes (IND)/Radek Stepanek (CZE) ATP

COURT 2 Start 11:00 am

Vania King (USA)/Monica Niculescu (ROU) v
[7] Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ)/Galina Voskoboeva (KAZ) WTA

Not Before 12:00 PM
[22] Maria Kirilenko (RUS) v [7] Marion Bartoli (FRA) WTA
[WC] Garbine Muguruza Blanco (ESP) v [5] Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) WTA
Vera Dushevina (RUS)/Shahar Peer (ISR) v
[WC] Gisela Dulko (ARG)/Paola Suarez (ARG) WTA

COURT 3 Start 12:00 noon

[WC] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS)/Lucie Safarova (CZE)
vNuria Llagostera Vives (ESP)/Arantxa Parra Santonja (ESP) WTA
Lukasz Kubot (POL)/Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) v
Santiago Gonzalez (MEX)/Scott Lipsky (USA) ATP
Julia Goerges (GER)/Samantha Stosur (AUS) v
Anabel Medina Garrigues (ESP)/Flavia Pennetta (ITA) WTA

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Venus and Serena Williams Maneuver Their Way into the Second Week at Wimbledon

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Venus and Serena Williams Maneuver Their Way into the Second Week at Wimbledon


A definite truism which applies to Serena Williams is that she’s always hungry for another major. The two time defending champion demonstrated that despite some first week cobwebs, she is prepared to fight for a “three-peat” at the All England Club.

Venus Williams, a five time champion at Wimbledon, is still in contention for another title on her most successful surface. Maria Sharapova, the 2004 champion, is almost playing to the standards expected of her. Sharapova is trying to get pass the fourth round for the first time since 2006 at this venue.

The most stunning early departure was 2010 runner-up Vera Zvonareva. Here’s a mid-tournament summary and a preview of the interesting match-ups to come.

After going the distance her first two rounds, Serena Williams cruised in the third round against Maria Kirilenko. The next round, Serena will have to bring her best stuff against Marion Bartoli, the 2007 Wimbledon finalist. Bartoli is playing with great confidence since winning her maiden grass court title in Eastbourne.

Subsequent to a comfortable opening match, Venus Williams clawed past 40 year old Kimiko Date-Krumm in the second round. However, in the third round, Venus coasted to victory. Next up for Venus is Tsvestana Pironkova.

In a rematch of last year’s semifinal, Pironkova avenged her lost to Zvonareva in the third round. In 2010, Pironkova reached the semifinals by upending Venus in the quarterfinals. Pironkova also ousted Venus at the Australian Open in 2006. With Pironkova’s 2-1 against Venus, this tussle could be another doozy.

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Serena and Venus Are Back: Wimbledon Is Anyone’s Trophy

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Serena and Venus Are Back: Wimbledon Is Anyone’s Trophy


The Williams sisters made their long awaited return to competitive tennis this week. Despite being rusty, with nine of the last eleven championships at the All England Club, Venus and Serena are among the favorites. Moreover, the Wimbledon draw sets up the potential for a fifth all Williams final. Here’s a more detailed analysis.

World number one Caroline Wozniacki hopes to validate her ranking with a first major. However, Wozniacki will need to do some heavy lifting to achieve that feat.

In the quarterfinals, Wozniacki may have to go through 2004 Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova. In addition, for the Dane, a semifinal encounter with defending and four time winner Serena or reigning French Open champion Na Li may be in the cards. Needless to say, Wozniacki will have to work hard to earn her maiden major.

Serena will begin her title defense by facing the talented Aravane Rezai in the first round. In the fourth round, Serena could see another sizeable French hurdle in 2007 finalist Marion Bartoli.

Later, in the quarterfinals, Serena may clash against Li who is no push over. In Li’s case, Sabine Lisicki may present difficulties in the second round. Lisicki has been regaining her form and confidence as is evident with her recent title in Birmingham.

Sharapova is again in the mix at another major. While a first round match with countrywoman Anna Chakvetadze could be testy, Sharapova should come through. Sharapova is likely to have a tougher time in the fourth round if Samantha Stosur is the opponent.

Serena had been out of commission nearly a year. For the seventh seed to claim her fifth Wimbledon crown, she will have to come up with the type of performance which resulted in her surprise victory at the Australian Open in 2007. With Serena’s track record, it’s certainly hard to bet against her. Yet, with Ana Ivanovic, Maria Kirilenko, Flavia Pennetta and Julia Goerges in the top half of the draw, there is an endless list of players capable of pulling off an upset.

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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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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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