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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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Djokovic Done In By Rochus, Wozniacki Worms Through

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Djokovic Done In By Rochus, Wozniacki Worms Through

Whilst rain had been forecasted in Miami at the Sony Ericsson Open on Friday, what was unexpected was Novak Djokovic’s second round departure.  Olivier Rochus ousted the world number two 6-2,6-7,6-4.  Simultaneously on court 1, Caroline Wozniacki, the women’s number two, was on the verge of an early exit herself.  However, Wozniacki survived against Tsvetana Pironkova 3-6,6-3,6-4.

Rochus broke in the opening game.  After consolidating, Olivier placed a beautiful backhand down the line winner to set up triple break point.  Rochus converted a second break when Djokovic’s backhand sailed long.  After erasing a break point and extending his lead to 5-1, Rochus closed out the set his next time out.

In the second set, Rochus again obtained triple break point and with a backhand down the line winner took a 3-2 lead.  But, Djokovic got back on even terms promptly breaking the next game.  The set went to a tiebreaker where Rochus got ahead early on.  Yet, Djokovic weathered the storm and stole the set.

The decisive set, after holding serve, Rochus was gifted a double fault by Djokovic and broke for 2-1.  Then, by donating to his opponent a couple of errors, Rochus lost his edge. Soon though, Rochus worked his way to double break point and capitalized when Djokovic’s forehand traveled long. Later on, Rochus fought off a break point and stretched his advantage to 4-1.  After failing to secure the insurance break, serving at 5-3, Rochus committed a string of errors allowing Djokovic to stay in the match.  Still, with miscues by Djokovic, Rochus manufactured break point/match point.  Olivier pocketed the match when another Novak forehand went astray.

After the match, MiamiTennisNews inquired:
Q.  Were you having problems breathing on the court?  Looked like the conditions were a little bit heavy out there.
DJOKOVIC:  Yeah, it was a bit humid, but, you know, he was making me run a lot so points were really long.  That was exhausting.

Q.  You’ve been playing a lot of tennis.  Are you thinking of maybe rescheduling for the clay season?
DJOKOVIC:  I don’t know.  I will have more time now I guess to rest and prepare well for clay.

On to the ladies, after dropping the first set to Pironkova, Wozniacki was behind in the second set.  The world number two battled back and captured the break for 5-3.  Subsequently, Wozniacki held to push the match to a third set.

In the ultimate set, Pironkova got a break early on and consolidated for 3-0.  After finally getting on the board, Wozniacki earned triple break point and converted.  Later at 3 all, Wozniacki took a go ahead break for 4-3.  However, Pironkova fought back to 4 a piece.  But, a resilient Wozniacki manufactured another break point and put herself in front 5-4 when Pironkova’s forehand up the line sailed long.  Then, on her third match point, as a forehand from Pironkova landed wide, Wozniacki punched her ticket into the third round.

With the rain backlog, Kim Clijsters’ match originally scheduled on stadium court was bounced to an outer court.  Regardless, for Clijsters, it turned out to be a practice session with a 6-1,6-1 thumping of Petra Kvitova.  Like Clijsters, Vera Zvonareva put on a clinic against Melanie Oudin 6-1, 6-2. Maria Kirilenko crawled out of a 5-2 deficit in the third set against Melinda Czink to pilfer the match in the tiebreaker.  After losing the first set, Lucie Safarova seized the second set tiebreaker then rolled over Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez 4-6.7-6,6-2.  Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, the 22nd seed, continues to impress; the youngster beat Tamira Paszek  7-6,4-6,6-3 for a third round berth.   Before the rain came, Victoria Azarenka, the defending champion, had a 6-3,6-2 victory over Alexandra Dulgheru. Jelena Jankovic, Dominika Cibulkova, Elena Vesnina and Shahar Peer were straight sets winners.  Samatha Stosur was pushed to a third set by Carla Suarez Navarro and made it through.

Elena Dementieva, the 5th seed, suffered her 11th defeat to Justine Henin 6-3,6-2. Alisa Kleybanova, the 24th seed, fell to Sara Errani 6-4,7-5 while Jie Zheng, seeded 20th, was upset by Virginie Razzano in straight sets.  For Alize Cornet, it was another disappointing tournament with an early ousting, this time by Francesca Schiavone.  Schiavone prevailed 6-3,6-2.  After being on the road six weeks and some heartbreaking losses, Cornet’s 2010 record is now 6-9.

MiamiTennisNews wanted to know about Cornet’s state of mind:

Q. You look physically tired, are you also mentally tired?
CORNET:  Maybe a little, it’s already many weeks that I’m away from home.  I have not cut back in terms of training and I am someone who trains a lot usually. I rarely give myself time off, days of rest. I am becoming cognizant that I should take resting a little more seriously and from time to time award myself a day off. However, I think it’s difficult with long stretches of tournaments as such.

Djokovic was followed on stadium court by Rafael Nadal.  In no time, Nadal dispatched Taylor Dent 6-4,6-3.  Andy Roddick and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga had a no drama night with straight set wins over their opponents Igor Andreev and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez respectively.  Ivan Ljubicic, the champion at Indian Wells last week, was forced to retire against Benjamin Becker after carrying the first set and the first game in the second due to a back injury.  It was a tough day for the American males with Sam Querrey and James Blake going down after winning their first sets to Jeremy Chardy and Thomas Bellucci respectively. But, John Isner avoided the upset with a 7-6,2-6,7-6 victory over Michael Russell.  David Nalbandian, Ivo Karlovic, Juan Carlos Ferrero, David Ferrer, Tommy Robredo, Nicolas Almagro and Phillip Kohlschreiber advanced.

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Kuznetsova Bends But Doesn’t Break, Venus Moves On in Miami

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Kuznetsova Bends But Doesn’t Break, Venus Moves On in Miami

In the second round at the Sony Ericsson Open, Svetlana Kuznetsova was pushed to three sets by China’s Shuai Peng.  But, Kuznetsova, the top seed, averted an upset with a 6-2,3-6,6-4 win.

After dominating in the opening set, Kuznetsova was broken early in the second.  Despite numerous chances to get back on serve, Kuznetsova’s failed to capitalize because of an inconsistent forehand.  In the decisive third set, Kuznetsova obtained the early edge for a 3-1 lead.  However, with a strong forehand stroke causing the error by Kuznetsova then a superb return, Peng erased the break deficit.  Later on in the set, Kuznetsova captured the crucial break allowing her to seal the victory.

Subsequent to the match, MiamiTennisNews asked:
Q.  Seems like your forehand has been off lately.  What’s going on there?
Kuznetsova:  Actually, it’s good.  But just getting a little bit–I’m frustrated  because I’m not making, but I feel it good.

Q.  Do you fell more pressure after winning the French.  Are you putting more pressure on yourself?
Kuznetsova:  I don’t put pressure.  I just get disappointed when I’m not playing good enough.  That’s it.

Peng’s compatriot, Li Na, 2010 Australian semifinalist and 8th seed, was equally unlucky as Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky after multiple opportunities to win in straight sets, prevailed in a third set tiebreaker 6-4,4-6,7-6.  In other matches, Marion Bartoli, the 11th seed, had no problem with Magdalena Rybarikova 6-2,6-4 .  After losing the first set, Sabine Lisicki retired due to injury against Yaroslava Shvedova.

Andrea Petkovic bested 10th seed Flavia Pennetta 6-3,3-6,6-0 .  Although her serve is still problematic, Ana Ivanovic came through in her match against Pauline Parmentier 6-4,6-3.  After a tricky initial set, 6th seed Agnieszka Radwanska cruised in the second set for a 7-5,6-0 victory over Ekaterina Makarova.  Surprisingly, Agnes Szavay squashed Alicia Molik 6-0, 6-0.

Once more this year, Gisela Dulko ousted a seeded player, this time she victimized Alona Bondarenko 7-5,6-2.  Up and coming Frenchwoman Aravane Rezai had her tournament cut short as the 18th seed went down to 19 year old wildcard Petra Martic.  30th seed Anabel Medina Garrigues and 31st seed Aleksandra Wozniak fell to Roberta Vinci and Polona Hercog respectively. Yanina Wickmayer, Nadia Petrova, Daniela Hantuchova, and Roberta Vinci are through to the third round.

In the night session, meeting for the first time, Venus Williams battled Sorana Cirstea.  Down love-40, Venus double faulted at 2 all to give Cirstea the break.  Serving at 4-3, Cirstea netted a backhand hand digging herself a triple break point hole.  Venus converted when Cirstea committed another backhand mistake.  Then, Williams broke a second time at love to carry the first set.

Again in the second set, Cirstea drew first blood.  With a blazing return, Cirstea set up triple break point and capitalized by forcing Venus to push her forehand long.  However, the next game, Venus leveled the set at 2 a piece.  Later, after erasing break point, Williams obtained a third break point with a backhand miscue by Cirstea.  Venus secured the break for 5-3 when Sorana dumped a forehand into the net.  With an easy hold, Venus closed out the match 6-4, 6-3.

Yesterday, the ATP first round matches were also completed with lucky loser Nicolas Lapentti reaching the second round joined by Juan Ignacio Chela, Dudi Sela, Thiemo De Bakker, Michael Berrer, Philipp Petzschner and Kevin Anderson.  Mardy Fish was the only male American to advance yesterday as Ryan Sweeting, Rajeev Ram were both eliminated.

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Safina Snaps Up Back-To-Back Title

The Rogers Cup final, a tier I tournament, was a contest between the experienced Russian Dinara Safina and the novice Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova. Safina’s steadiness was too much for her 19 year-old counterpart; Dinara cremated Cibulkova 6-2, 6-1.

Although there were flashes of brilliance from Cibulkova, the result never seemed in doubt. After holding serve to commence the proceedings, Safina broke her opponent to take 2-0 lead. After falling behind 1-5, Cibulkova hoped to turn things around as she had done with Jelena Jankovic, coming back from that exact deficit to win the set. After giving Cibulkova an opening as she served for the match and being broken, Dinara took advantage of Dominka’s service problems to take the set.

Under pressure at deuce the first game of the second set, Safina threw in consecutive aces to close out the game. After breaking Cibulkova, Safina went down break point which she erased with a second serve ace, then replicated another ace to seal the game for a 3-0 lead. Mainly a defensive player, Cibulkova failed to get many errors from Safina. The 2008 French Open Finalist continued to play smart tennis, pressuring Dominika to go for low percentage shots. After breaking Safina, Cibulkova lost her serve at love to go down 1-5. Serving for the match, Safina did not stumble and went on to make a second serve ace to seal the victory.

To make it to the finals, Cibulkova crushed Elena Dementieva in the second round, Nadia Petrova in the third round, Jelena Jankovic in the quarterfinals and Marion Bartoli in the semifinals. Cibulkova’s ranking will leap from 31 to 20 while Safina’s will creep up a notch to 7. With this win, Dinara tops the standings for the U.S Open series bonus money. The Rogers’ Cup is Safina’s second tier I title of the year.

At the Nordea Nordic Light Open in Sweden, a tier IV hardcourt tournament, Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark crushed Russia’s Vera Dushevina in the finals 6-0, 6-2.

Maria Sharapova aggravated a previous shoulder problem in Montreal and will be sidelined for the Olympics and U.S. Open. Ana Ivanovic suffered a thumb injury during the tournament but should be present in New York. By losing to Tamira Paszek in the third round, Ivanovic will cede the number one ranking to countrywoman Jankovic.

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