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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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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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