Tag Archive | "Kuznetsova"

Azarenka Defeats Kuznetsova to Claim Third Miami Open Title

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Azarenka Defeats Kuznetsova to Claim Third Miami Open Title


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Karen Pestaina @TennisNewsTPN

Victoria Azarenka added her name to the list of women to complete the Indian Wells- Key Biscayne double when the 13th beat 2006 Miami Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova on Saturday 6-3, 6-2 for the title in 77 minutes. The Belarusian joins Steffi Graf and Kim Clijsters as the only women to achieve this feat.

Azarenka, once ranked No. 1 in the world and sidelined with injuries on and off over the past few years.

“The most difficult thing would hold me back was my body wasn’t responding well to training, to matches, and I was unhealthy, I wasn’t fit enough. So that was holding me back. And after I think the point when you reach your goals and (indiscernible) that tip of mentality where you kind of drop your motivation a little bit, if you don’t put the work in it can sway you away.

“I definitely had some difficulties mentally to get back with my motivation, but I never doubted my abilities.”

Despite setbacks, the soon-to-be back into the top five player says she’s back.

“I felt that I played really well,” Azarenka said. “I really took a lot of time away from her and her shots. I didn’t see the statistics, but I think I had a pretty high number of winners today.”

“I think I have played pretty well last year. With my injury I had some pretty good results despite that. So I’m looking forward to putting necessary work in and then go after it.”

“It’s an honor to stand next to those amazing champions,” Azarenka said during the trophy ceremony in regard to reaching a milestone set only by Graf and Clijsters. “This just gives me even more inspiration and motivation to keep working harder, because this feels great.”

Azarenka, a two-time major champion is now 22-1 on the year, her only loss coming to Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber in the final 8 of Melbourne.

No. 15 seed Kuznetsova upset 8-time Miami Open champion Serena Williams in the fourth round. “It’s quite open, but you have to see how Serena will play,” Kuznetsova said. “If she’s in a good mood, not good mood, good feet, not good feet – you never know.”

“I’d like to congratulate Victoria for doing such a good job this year and in these four weeks,” Kuznetsova said in her runner-up speech both speaking in Spanish and English.

“I want congratulate Sveta for the great result,” Azarenka said.

“I know you’ve had a lot of ups and downs in your career and I’m so happy to see you again in top form producing some great tennis.”

Azarenka dedicated her 20th career title to her family, especially her parents.

Azarenka said that she’s celebrating her title by eating pizza.

The tennis season switches from the hardcourts of the Unites States to the clay courts of mostly Europe next week and Azarenka says she’s ready.

“Definitely very motivated for clay season. I always been a high favorite of proving people wrong, and that’s what also motivates me a lot.

“Going into clay season, people say it’s not my favorite surface and whatever, I’m going to work pretty hard to make sure it’s going to be my favorite surface. I’m going to put in the work that’s needed and the adjustments that’s needed.

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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Kuzentsova and Azarenka Advance to the Miami Open Finals

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Kuzentsova and Azarenka Advance to the Miami Open Finals


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Karen Pestaina @TennisNewsTPN

A pair of former Miami Open winners and two-time major champions have reached the women’s final. Svetlana Kuznetsova, a 2006 winner of the Miami Open held off Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky 7-5, 6-3. 2009 and 2011 Key Biscayne winner, 13th seed Victoria Azarenka gained a little revenge from the Australian Open by beating No. 2 Angelique Kerber. Kerber beat Azarenka in the quarterfinals of Melbourne and went on to beat Serena Williams in the final to capture her first major title.

Kuznetsova knocked out eight-time champion Serena Williams in the fourth round of Miami and survived four straight three-set wins to reach the semifinal.

The 30-year-old Russian at No. 19 in the world has become the lowest ranked finalist since 2005, when No. 38 Kim Clijsters won the Miami title.

Should Kuznetsova win the title, she would return to the top ten. She talked about her tournament so far.

“I just take match by match and I just go,” she said. “It’s one more match. I’ll play with another amazing opponent. I had great wins this week, but one match, it’s a lot. It’s almost like everything. It’s great, you know.

“I start really well playing in Sydney, and then Australian Open didn’t happen to me to play good there. But I still felt I was in good level. Then I kind of mess up with Fed Cup and all that results. It was not good for me.

“I didn’t feel going in that good shape going to the U.S. swing. I was not feeling confident at all. After I had a loss in Indian Wells I tried to work a lot and training every morning a lot just to get confidence back, get my fitness.

“I’m doing better. I’m appreciate, I am blessed I have my body to play so many years and to win against good players, top players. It’s great when things come together. Either way, it’s not the end of the world, but it’s a great week. I’m really pleased and happy the way I fight through all these tournaments and weeks and players.”

On-court after the match, the former French Open and U.S. Open champion said she was happy wrapping up the match in straight sets.

“I am happy that I could hang in there and never let my hands down,” said Kuznetsova.
“I’m happy I’m still able to play against the best in the world. I was praying to finish it in two sets so I would have a little more time to rest.”

Azarenka advanced during the Thursday night session, improving her record this year to 21-1, not dropping a set during the tournament. Should the Belarusian win, she’d become only the third woman player to win the Indian Wells – Miami double in the same year.

Both Azarenka and Kerber produced hard-hitting shots with very exciting rallies. Azarenka had her serve broken, serving for the match at 5-4 in the second set but won the next two games to close it.

Azarenka broke the German’s serve seven time during the match, hitting 29 winners and only making 16 unforced errors.

“Vika, she is doing amazing,” Kuznetsova said about potentially playing her in the final. “She is extremely prepared. Playing really confident taking all her chances.”

Azarenka is 4-4 against Kuznetsova in head-to-head competition. The last time they faced each other was in the quarterfinals of the 2013 Australian Open. Azarenka won the match and went on to win her second straight Melbourne crown.

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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Kerber and Azarenka Advance to the Miami Open Semis

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Kerber and Azarenka Advance to the Miami Open Semis


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Karen Pestaina @TennisNewsTPN

Victoria Azarenka stands two wins away from achieving the rare Indian Wells- Miami double. The 13th seed and two-time major winner defeated Britain’s Johanna Konta 6-4, 6-2 to reach the semifinals of the Miami Open on Wednesday.

Only two women have won Indian Wells and Miami in the same year and they are Kim Clijsters in 2005 and Steffi Graf in 1994 and 1996.

“If I’m able to make it, it’s great,” Azarenka said after the match. “It seems so close, but it’s really far. I want to stay in the present. I want to continue to fight and keep getting better.”

“Great player,” Azarenka said of Konta. “I was very impressed with her improvement taking from last year and seeing how well she’s handling the pressure and going in big stages and playing really well. That’s impressive. I’m sure we’re going to see a lot more of her in the future.

“I think especially for England not having women player stand out, she’s going to be the one, I think.”

“I think it’s exciting to watch her journey and see happens. She’s definitely playing top 10 level right now.”

The Belarusian who has struggled with injuries the last few years said that she always believed in herself but she still hasn’t reached her peak. “I never doubt my abilities,” said the 2009 and 2011 Miami Open winner. “What came to my mind is definitely after being for so long injured, the doubt was to get healthy. So always been a little bit on my mind.

“But I still feel that I’m far from my best, and that’s what’s really exciting for me, to be motivated, to keep improving. Everybody has doubts. We’re human beings. I always trust my ability and I believe in myself.”

Azarenka will face-off against No. 2 seed Angelique Kerber who defeated No. 22 Madison Keys 6-3, 6-2 in the evening session.

For the reigning Australian Open champion Kerber, this will be her first semifinal in Miami.

Kerber dominated her American opponent, Keys made 39 unforced errors during the match. Kerber rushed need just a little over an hour to complete the victory.

“It’s nice to play a match like this,” Kerber said. “I was feeling good. Madison is always a tough opponent. I know this because we had a lot of tough battles in the past.

“I knew that I must play very good to beat her because she played very well here in the last few matches. So it’s good. It’s good.”

She continued: “I was really trying to stay focus(ed) and stay really concentrate point by point and actually trying to really only focusing on points, on point by point.

“Because I know the tennis game, and sometimes one ball can change and turn around the match. That was my goal: to be focus(ed) and playing my game until the last point.”
Kerber notched her first win over Azarenka in the most recent quarterfinals of the Australian Open. Coming into that match, the Belarusian had a 6-0 advantage over the German.
“I went out there and trying to be really aggressive from the first point, trying to really believe in myself, because until this time I never won the match against her,” Kerber said. “It was 0-6; now it’s 1-6. I will try to go out there again like in Australia and try to believe in my game and myself and, yeah, trying to challenge her.

“It will be not easy. It will be tough match. But this is for what I am practicing, for the big matches out there, to really show what, yeah, we can do and playing the best tennis.

“So I’m really looking forward to play against her again this year.”

As for playing Azarenka in the next round, Kerber said: “She had a great start of the year, of course. She is like, yeah, on fire I think right now. I will just trying to play my game go out and try to beat her. I mean, we played two times already this year and that’s the third time.

“Yeah, I will try to enjoy it. I know that I must play really my best tennis to beat her because she won Indian Wells; she’s here now in the semis.

“Yeah, I will try to take this challenge against her.”

The other semifinal which will take place on Thursday will pit No. 15 Svetlana Kuznetsova, who defeated No. 1 Serena Williams in the third round, against No. 19 seed Timea Bacsinszky who knocked out two straight top 5 seeds to reach the final four.

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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Kuznetsova Topples Serena Williams in the Fourth Round at the Miami Open

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Kuznetsova Topples Serena Williams in the Fourth Round at the Miami Open


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Serena Williams’ ninth title at the Miami Open has been deferred another year. The world number one was upended 6-7, 6-1, 6-2 by 2006 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Although Williams’ battled her way into the fourth round, history was on her side. The ultimate time she was bounced prior to the quarterfinals was in 2000 by compatriot Jennifer Capriati.

With a 3-0 lead to open the match, Williams appeared in control. Not surprising considering her 8-2 record over her rival. However, the world number 19 returned the favor by capturing the next three games. After salvaging three break points on her serve to get 4-3, Williams failed to capitalize on two opportunities on her rival’s serve. As the Russian dug in her heels, the first set went to a tiebreaker. Serena claimed it in dramatic fashion with a return winner, a primordial scream followed.

At that point, Kuznetsova could have wilted under the humid South Florida weather. To the contrary, it was Williams who faded. Up 2-1, Kuznetsova performed like the two time majors champion that she is, forcing Williams into a bevy of mistakes. In less than 30 minutes, she pocketed the next four games to assure that the quarterfinalist would be settled by a third set.

For Williams the three time defending champion, more bad news was on tap. The top seed surrendered the initial gave of the decider at love. Soon, Kuznetsova sealed a double break 3-0 edge. Williams finally halted a run of eight consecutive games by her rival for 3-1. With an uncooperative serve and a sleuth of miscues from both the forehand and backhand wings, Williams had no reply to Kuznetsova’s brilliance. The Russian finished off the world number one and the match with a love hold.

Williams admitted that the loss is “obviously disappointing, but I’ve won here a lot, so it’s okay”. Neither climate nor injury was the cause “I’m used to this weather. . . This is what I practice in. . . physically I’m fine. . . I guess I didn’t move today. Maybe that was one of the things that didn’t work out for me. . . Actually don’t really feel pressure when I play here normally. I usually feel good.”

According to the world number one “I did the best that I could. I can’t win every match. The players come out and play me like they’ve never played before in their lives. . . I have to be 300% every day . . . I think overall I put a lot of expectations on myself more than anything. So that’s pretty hard to live up to.”

After losing a close first set, Kuznetsova did not sulk “I had opportunities and my goal was to keep a good level the whole match. . . I just knew I [could] hang in there and keep playing my game.”

The weather could be a distraction, so for Kuznetsova the key was to stay focused on her game “it’s really hot out there. . . I was trying to take longer time in between the points. . . I was trying to bring as many balls back as I could. . Some days she makes more winners; some days you should make her move more so she doesn’t do it. I think I did quite well what I had to do.”

The two clashed in the same round last year with Williams pocketing a straight sets triumph. Kuznetsova’s last win over the American was the French Open quarterfinal in 2009. The Russian recognizes that the road is long and treacherous to a second Miami Open trophy “I have so many people saying congratulations [they] feel like I won the title already. Not real. Now these days the tennis is extremely tough and each opponent is really difficult to play. I’m just focusing on tomorrow’s match. I don’t have too much time to rest. Really looking forward to give my best another day tomorrow.”

One of the keys to the match was Kuznetsova capturing 75% of first and 61% second serve points ” I knew I had to go for my serves. I think I barely did double fault. I knew I had to go aggressive. If I would give some easy second serves I would get my ass kicked out there. . . I’m not sure if I served that well, but it was good.”

By 2015 standards, for Williams thus far, 2016 has been a forgettable year. However Kuznetsova cited “she struggled a little bit probably because she lost Australian Open, but, she is still No. 1 and she still plays great. I don’t see much to be depressed about. . . players out of like top 30, they can beat anybody on good day. The thing is they cannot keep playing this good game. You can see some surprise wins in first two rounds. Everybody plays good now and goes for their shots and everybody is really strong. Not everybody can keep doing this during the whole tournament. . . I think every round is extremely tough now. I think will level of tennis is increased now, so it’s difficult.”

Upsets was the order of the day. In the first match, Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszki shocked 2012 Miami Open champion Agnieszka Radwanska. Subsequent to winning only two games the first set, the Swiss outplayed the world number three to record a 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 to advance to her maiden quarterfinal in Miami. Simona Halep, ranked fifth, came through her contest with Britain’s Heather Watson unscathed with a 6-3, 6-4 victory.

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Serena Williams Wards Off Diyas for a Spot into the Fourth Round at the Miami Open

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Serena Williams Wards Off Diyas for a Spot into the Fourth Round at the Miami Open


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After a brutal three set tussle with fellow American Christina McHale two days ago, Serena Williams was probably looking forward to a routine third round match at the Miami Open against Zarina Diyas ranked 97th. Yet, this encounter was anything, but. The world number had to claw her way to a 7-5, 6-3 victory.

On the heels of Rafael Nadal retiring because of the insufferable heat to Damir Dzumhur world number 94th from Bosnia, the air seemed to have been sucked out of the stadium. However, when Williams broke to open the proceedings, there was a sense that perhaps order would be restored swiftly. Yet, her 22 year old opponent from Kazakhstan would not be docile. A few fist pumps followed a comeback from 15-40 to deuce. Soon after, Diyas leveled the set at 1 game a piece. There was no apparent hangover from their only prior meeting at Indian Wells in 2015, when Williams dismantled her 6-2, 6-0.

As a reminder though, Williams quickly broke at love the third game and consolidated for a 3-1 advantage. Still the young Kazakh refused to fold. After holding serve at love for 4-5, Diyas manufactured a break point by forcing three successive miscues from Williams. By pushing her counterpart into a backhand mistake, Diyas equalized the set at 5 all. Ultimately, Williams shifted gears to regain the control promptly and on her second try closed out the the set.

On a roll with six straight games, it seemed that the eight time Miami Open champion would cruise to victory. Once more, Diyas was not through. As Williams serve deserted her and the errors piled on, Diyas secured three successive games to reduce the deficit to a sole break 3-4.

The eighth game Williams stood fast to guard serve for 5-3. Later, with Diyas dumping a forehand into the net, the American was at double match point. As Diyas’ backhand misfired, relief was evident on Williams’ part as she punched her ticket into the round of 16.

Today’s triumph represents Williams’ 750th career match win. Despite, consecutive finals losses, the Australian Open and Indian Wells, something that Williams has not experienced in over a decade. She will surely surpass Lindsay Davenport’s 753 mark which is seventh best all time.

Williams acknowledged that today she had to problem solve along the way “She’s been on tour a few years. I’ve played her before and I know her game really well . . . I think she played above her level the whole match, and I think that’s actually a good sign for her, to know that she can play like that. . . I had to really raise my level to win today. I think she is doing everything better. More than anything, she had a lot of confidence this time. Obviously she has nothing to lose.”

By the time Williams got on court, the weather conditions had improved compared to the preceding match ” It was definitely humid today. Rafa played like an hour and a half, two hours before me, so that makes a huge difference. . he was in the most intense part of the sun; whereas I was kind of at tail end of it. . . For me the biggest adjustment I had to make is I usually never use a towel. Here I might have to go grab the towel in between points. . . But, I have been living here for over 20 years. I love these conditions actually.”

Up next for Williams is Svetlana Kuznetsova. The Russian edged out Caroline Garcia in a third set tiebreaker. Although the world number one has a 8-2 record over Kuznetsova, their riveting showdown at the French Open in 2013, it should be another thrilling contest. “It’s a great match-up. She plays well and makes a lot of the great shots. She’s actually been playing well this year. She had a couple big wins and couple good tournaments. I have my work cut out for me. We’ll see what happens.”

Off the court, the two are amicable. Williams cited ” we get along great. That’s no secret. She’s just someone that you respect and you like… Just something about her that I think everyone likes.”

Nothing like being at home, Williams has been dominant at this venue with a 74 wins and 7 losses. Moreover, Williams has not been ousted prior to the round of 16 since 2000 when she tasted defeat at the hand of Jennifer Capriati. Consequently, Monday’s match will be quite compelling as the top ranked player looks to reboot her 2016 season by continuing her quest for a ninth Miami Open title.

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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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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


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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, Serena, Nadal and Wozniacki Highlight Action at the Sony Ericsson Open

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Sharapova, Serena, Nadal and Wozniacki Highlight Action at the Sony Ericsson Open



The women take center stage Thursday at the 2012 Sony Ericsson Open. Thursday’s schedule features six women’s Grand Slam champions as well as three former Sony Ericsson champions.

Maria Sharapova, a two-time runner up at the Sony Ericsson Open, opens her campaign this year by taking on Shahar Peer.

Serena Williams, a five-time Miami champion, begins her quest for a record breaking sixth title when she faces Shuai Zhang in her opening round match.

Two-time Sony Ericsson Open champion Kim Clijsters is up against Julia Goerges while 2006 Sony Ericsson Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova takes on Iveta Benesova.

Also in action on Thursday are 2011 US Open champion Smantah Stosur and 2011 French Open champion Na Li.

Not to be outdone by the women, 10-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal also takes to the courts on Thursday. The Spaniard team of Nadal and Marcel Granollers will face off against the Croatian team of Marin Cilic and Ivo Karlovic.

In the night session, former world number one Caroline Wozniacki plays against Barbora Zahlavova Strycova followed by Sam Querry versus Matthew Ebden.

Here is Thursday’s complete order of play :

Thursday, March 22, 2012

STADIUM Start 11:00 am

[WC] Ryan Harrison (USA) v Potito Starace (ITA) ATP
[WC] Shuai Zhang (CHN) v [10] Serena Williams (USA) WTA
Shahar Peer (ISR) v [2] Maria Sharapova (RUS) WTA

Marin Cilic (CRO)/Ivo Karlovic (CRO) v
Marcel Granollers (ESP)/Rafael Nadal (ESP) ATP

Starting at 7:30 PM
Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (CZE)v [4] Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) WTA
Sam Querrey (USA) v Matthew Ebden (AUS) ATP

GRANDSTAND Start 11:00 am

[13] Jelena Jankovic (SRB) v Mona Barthel (GER) WTA
[14] Julia Goerges (GER)v Kim Clijsters (BEL) WTA
Leonardo Mayer (ARG) v Marcos Baghdatis (CYP)ATP
[6] Samantha Stosur (AUS) v [Q] Valeria Savinykh (RUS) WTA

Not Before 5:00 PM
[Q] David Goffin (BEL) v Donald Young (USA) ATP

COURT 1 Start 11:00 am

Igor Kunitsyn (RUS) v [WC] Jesse Levine (USA)ATP
Iveta Benesova (CZE) v [26] Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) WTA
Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR) v Bernard Tomic (AUS) ATP
[8] Na Li (CHN) v [Q] Melinda Czink (HUN) WTA

Not Before 5:00 PM
[29] Petra Cetkovska (CZE) v Christina Mchale (USA) WTA

COURT 2 Start 11:00 am

Sofia Arvidsson (SWE) v [12] Sabine Lisicki (GER)WTA
Chanelle Scheepers (RSA) v [25] Anabel Medina Garrigues (ESP) WTA
[Q] Sergei Bubka (UKR) v Ernests Gulbis (LAT)ATP
[Q] Bjorn Phau (GER v Carlos Berlocq (ARG) ATP
[Q] Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP) v [Q] Rajeev Ram (USA) ATP

COURT 3 Start 11:00 am

Albert Ramos (ESP) v [Q] Simone Bolelli (ITA) ATP
Cedrik-Marcel Stebe (GER) v Flavio Cipolla (ITA) ATP
Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) v [19] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) WTA
Alex Bogomolov Jr. (RUS) v Gilles Muller (LUX) ATP

COURT 6 Start 11:00 am
Lukasz Kubot (POL) v Ivo Karlovic (CRO) ATP
Benjamin Becker (GER) v Olivier Rochus (BEL) ATP
Alexandr Dolgopolov (UKR)/Xavier Malisse (BEL) v [3] Michael Llodra (FRA)/ Nenad Zimonjic (SRB) ATP
Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE) v Jarkko Nieminen (FIN) ATP
Daniele Bracciali (ITA)/Juan Sebastian Cabal (COL) v [8] Frantisek Cermak (CZE)/Filip Polasek (SVK) ATP

COURT 7 Start 11:00 am
[21] Roberta Vinci (ITA) v Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL) WTA
Marina Erakovic (NZL) v [23] Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) WTA
[17] Shuai Peng (CHN) v [Q] Stephanie Foretz Gacon (FRA) WTA

Not Before 3:30 PM
[30] Sara Errani (ITA) v Sloane Stephens (USA) WTA
Alla Kudryavtseva (RUS)/Alexandra Panova (RUS) v
Andreja Klepac (SLO)/Alicja Rosolska (POL) WTA

COURT 8 Start 11:00 am

[8] Daniela Hantuchova (SVK)/Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) v
Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU)/Nina Bratchikova (RUS) WTA
Eva Birnerova (CZE)/Klaudia Jans-Ignacik (POL) v
[4] Andrea Hlavackova (CZE)/Lucie Hradecka (CZE) WTA

Not Before 1:00 PM
Nicolas Mahut (FRA)/Gilles Simon (FRA) v Kevin Anderson (RSA)
/Milos Raonic (CAN) ATP
[Q] Frank Dancevic (CAN) v Jeremy Chardy (FRA) ATP
Oliver Marach (AUT)/Alexander Peya (AUT) v
Nicolas Almagro (ESP)/Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) ATP

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