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Clijsters Ejects Azarenka, Venus Narrowly Escapes

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Clijsters Ejects Azarenka, Venus Narrowly Escapes

The women’s draw sprang a leak for the first time at the 2010 Sony Ericsson Open. Svetlana Kuznetsova,  the top seed, Victoria Azarenka, the defending champion and 4th seed, as well as Jelena Jankovic, the 2008 finalist and 7th seed, all went out in the round of 16.  Venus Williams barely hung on to defeat Daniela Hantuchova 1-6,7-5,6-4.

Hantuchova captured Williams’ first two service games and ran away with the first set 6-1.  In the second set, courtesy of a Williams double fault, Hantuchova arrived at break point. After Venus wiped that out, later on because of errors, Hantuchova capitalized for 2-0.  Promptly though, Williams broke at love to get back on serve.  Shortly thereafter, Hantuchova misfired on three consecutive backhands handing Williams a break.  Venus consolidated at love for a 4-2 edge.  But, with Williams serving for the second set at 5-4, as a result of a double fault and a netted backhand, Hantuchova had break point.  When Venus made a forehand error subsequent to a terrific down the line stroke by Daniela, the players were dead even.  Down the road, by provoking mistakes from Hantuchova, Williams obtained a break, then, with a love game, she acquired the second set.

Early on in the third set, both competitors had break point, but maintained serve.  Yet, in the ninth game, with aggressive shots, Williams forced Hantuchova into errors and on her third break chance converted for a 5-4 lead.  Following a forehand crosscourt winner, Venus arrived at triple match point.  Williams moved on to the quarterfinals when Hantuchova dumped the return into the net.

Here are Venus’ comments after the match to the questions by MiamiTennisNews.com:
Q.  You last played her in 2007, although you have a 90 record against her, it’s been a while.  Was there something different about her game today, or was it the conditions?
WILLIAMS:  Yeah, she played really well.  I haven’t seen her play so well in a long time, so I think she was really executing her game.  Conversely, I was a little bit off and struggling to find the court and everything else. You know, days like this you just have to figure out a way to win the point, even if it’s not pretty.  So I enjoy that battle. Of course, I’d like to win more straightforward, but when it counts and times get tough, I always feel confident that I’m gonna find a way to win the point.

Q.  I notice that you don’t call for oncourt coaching.  Do you enjoy trying to figure out the puzzle on your own?
WILLIAMS:  I’ve called before.  It’s been a while.  I like being on the court alone.  I enjoy that.  I’m not a player [who] looks at [her] box every point. I look inside myself, because I feel like I have the answer. And all I need is my box to say, Go, go.  You can do it. That’s enough.

In the next round, Williams battles Agnieszka Radwanska.  Radwanska ousted Yaroslava Shvedova in straight sets 6-1,6-4.

The opening set of the Clijsters and Azarenka match was a dizzying with breaks galore. Ultimately after scratching off double break point on her serve, Clijsters set up double break/set point with a forehand crosscourt winner.  Clijsters pocketed the set when Azarenka dumped a forehand into the net.

After Clijsters had an easy game to begin the second set, with a forehand crosscourt winner, she broke for 2-0.  As Azarenka’s frustration mounted, her play deteriorated leading to Clijsters finishing her off in no time flat.  The final score was 6-4,6-0.

Samantha Stosur will be Clijsters’ quarterfinal adversary.  On her fourth attempt, Stosur prevailed for the first time over Jelena Jankovic 6-1,7-6.

A mixture of inclement weather and a shoulder injury resulted in Kuznetsova’s downfall. The Russian was given her pink slip by Marion Bartoli.  Bartoli pounced Kuznetsova 6-3,6-0.

This was what Bartoli had to say when MiamiTennisNews.com asked:
Q.  This is your first quarters here since 2003.  How does it feel?
BARTOLI:  Yeah, it feels great, you know.  I had a couple of bad years here. It was really tough for me, because I really love this tournament since I played Orange Bowl here when I was 16 years old. Coming here and playing so badly last few years has been tough mentally.  This year I just arrived a bit earlier from Indian Wells . . .  and practiced really a lot more . . . to get used to the conditions, because it’s just really tough to play here. I think the work paid off.

Q. The last time you played Kuznetsova was in 2006 in Bali.  Is there something different about your game or her game?
BARTOLI:  My game is different. I am serving a lot better than before.  I have a more powerful game compared to the last time we played which was before 2007 when I ended up ranked in the top ten and made it to a grand slam final.  My level particularly has elevated tremendously. [My serve]  especially is more powerful.

Bartoli battles Yanina Wickmayer in the quarters.  Wickmayer trounced Timea Bacsinszki 6-0,6-1.

Finally, a comfortable win for Caroline Wozniacki as she beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-2,6-2.  Wozniacki’s quarterfinal rival, Justine Henin will not be as generous. Henin dispatched Vera Zvonareva 6-1,6-4.

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Wozniacki Lives Another Day, Clijsters And Henin Also In the Round of 16

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Wozniacki Lives Another Day, Clijsters And Henin Also In the Round of 16

At the Sony Ericsson Open, for the second consecutive match, Caroline Wozniacki struggled. But, the world number two found a way to prevail 1-6,6-1,6-4 over Maria Kirilenko.

After holding serve, Kirilenko produced a volley winner to set up break point.  When Wozniacki’s backhand sailed long, Kirilenko broke for 2-0.  Subsequent to consolidating, Kirilenko’s aggressiveness by coming to net paid off again as she captured a second break.  Bothered by the humidity and a viral ailment, Wozniacki required a medical time out down 1-4. Kirilenko ran away with the first set the next two games.

As Wozniacki adjusted to the conditions, her play improved. Caroline took control of the second set forcing a decisive third.  At 3 all, Wozniacki obtained double break point.  Although Kirilenko got to deuce, down the road, with a couple of winners, Wozniacki broke for 4-3.  Yet, the next game, Kirilenko erased game point by her opponent and leveled the set at 4 a piece.  However, with a forehand error, Kirilenko donated double break point, Wozniacki accepted the gift with a forehand up the line winner.  Later, with a forehand crosscourt winner, Wozniacki secured the victory.

From MiamiTennisNews.com:
Q.  Do you think it was hard for Maria to play against you knowing she saw something might have been wrong?  Was [it] hard for her to change tactics or [did she think] you might not make it the whole match…?
WOZNIACKI:  I don’t know.  That’s difficult for me to say.  She played a great first set, and she gave me the chance to come back in the second, and then I got the belief and I started feeling better.  I just kept hanging in there, and my fighting spirit got to me and I was there.

Q.  You made it to the finals last week at Indian Wells.  Do you think maybe also part of it is fatigue that you’re experiencing with a lot of tennis the last few weeks?
WOZNIACKI:  I feel these are just  they’re really, really highranked tournaments just under the Grand Slams, and they are almost twoweek tournaments just like the Grand Slams. Everybody is playing.  It takes a lot of strength not only physically but mentally, as well.  You don’t really get to come down after such a big final, so I think maybe it just got to me. Then I had a huge match the first day where I almost went out, and I just think that just took everything out of me. Again, my fighting spirit didn’t give up, and I’m still here.

Short turnaround time for Caroline, she plays her fourth round match tomorrow.  Wozniacki battles Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova who defeated Francesca Schiavone 7-5,6-3.  Therefore, the advice from MiamiTennisNews.com was “Get plenty of rest, plenty of fluids”:
WOZNIACKI:  Thank you.

Another easier than expected day at the office for Kim Clijsters; she crushed Shahar Peer 6-1, 6-0.  In two matches, Clijsters has dropped only one game.  Clijsters is unlikely to have a walk in the park her round of 16 match, she takes on defending champion Victoria Azarenka.  In great form, Azarenka beat Lucie Safarova 6-4,6-2.

Justine Henin’s third round match against Dominika Cibulkova was a see-saw ride with ten breaks of serve. In each set, Cibulkova got the early break, but failed to impose her will on Henin.  With a double break advantage, Henin was broken the first time serving for the match.  The second time around, after Cibulkova saved two match points, Henin closed the deal 6-4,6-4.  Therefore MiamiTennisNews.com asked Henin:

Q.  What was most troubling to you about her game?
HENIN:  Well, she plays well, you know, she runs a lot, and she has [a] pretty good backhand.  She’s a real fighter.  I mean, she has a strong personality, and it was the first time I’ve played against her.  That’s never easy to play someone you don’t know.  So that was something new for myself. But, I mean, I was glad about my reaction in both sets to come back.  And especially after a good win two days ago, it wasn’t that easy today, but I’m glad I’m in, you know, in the last 16.

Henin’s next round opponent is Vera Zvonareva.  The latter won in straight sets against Sara Errani.

In the night session, Jelena Jankovic vanquished Elena Vesnina 7-6,6-3.  Sam Stosur, Jankovic’s subsequent challenge, stormed back after dropping the first set to Virginie Razzano 4-6,7-5,6-1.

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Monday’s Agenda At the 2010 Sony Ericsson Open

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Monday’s Agenda At the 2010 Sony Ericsson Open

The men wrap up their third round at the 2010 Sony Ericsson Open today while fourth round action commences for the women.

Mardy Fish tries to avoid the lull that postdates a triumph over a player of Andy Murray’s caliber. In the first match of the day, Fish confronts Feliciano Lopez.  Their three prior meetings, Lopez won twice on hardcourt while Fish on grass. Afterwards, Roger Federer takes on veteran Florent Serra for the first time.  Following is Venus Williams and Daniela Hantuchova.  Williams will be shooting for 10-0 record versus her opponent.  The day session caps off with a jewel of a match, Kim Clijsters against Victoria Azarenka. In Toronto last year, Clijsters was victorious at their maiden encounter.

On stadium court, the evening program has Fernando Gonzalez clashing with Juan Monaco.  Gonzalez has prevailed at their five preceding rendezvous. The finale is Justine Henin versus Vera Zvonareva.  Henin has won all five prior matches, the last one was in Zurich in 2007.  Zvonareva is without question a different player.

On the grandstand, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Marion Bartoli do battle. Later, Marcos Baghdatis plays Marin Cilic, the inaugural showdown for these players.  Two other top seeds in action at that location are Fernando Verdasco and Robin Soderling.

The outer courts have plenty of stimulating singles and doubles matches.  After fighting her way into the fourth round yesterday, Caroline Wozniacki is back to face talented youngster Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.  Although Wozniacki carried their sole meeting in New Haven last year, with her dealing with a viral illness and Anastasia much improved, it will be a tough task.  In addition, Jelena Jankovic tussles with Sam Stosur for the second tournament in a row.  Jankovic has a 3-0 record versus Stosur.  Top doubles seed Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic collide with Nicolas Almagro and Tommy Robredo.  John Isner and Sam Querrey try to cut down fourth seed Mahesh Bhupathi and Max Mirnyi.

Below is Monday’s full order of play :


STADIUM start 11:00 am
M Fish (USA) vs [29] F Lopez (ESP) – ATP

Not Before 1:00 PM
[1] R Federer (SUI) vs F Serra (FRA) – ATP
[3] V Williams (USA) vs [19] D Hantuchova (SVK) – WTA

Not Before 4:30 PM
[14] K Clijsters (BEL) vs [4] V Azarenka (BLR) – WTA

Not Before 7:00 PM
[9] F Gonzalez (CHI) vs [22] J Monaco (ARG) – ATP

Not Before 8:30 PM
[WC] J Henin (BEL) vs [11] V Zvonareva (RUS) – WTA

GRANDSTAND start 11:00 am
[1] S Kuznetsova (RUS) vs [13] M Bartoli (FRA) – WTA

Not Before 12:30 PM
Y Shvedova (KAZ) vs [6] A Radwanska (POL) – WTA
[10] F Verdasco (ESP) vs [23] J Melzer (AUT) – ATP
[25] M Baghdatis (CYP) vs [7] M Cilic (CRO) – ATP

Not Before 5:00 PM
P Petzschner (GER) vs [5] R Soderling (SWE) – ATP

COURT 1 start 11:00 am
K Peschke (CZE) / K Srebotnik (SLO) vs [8] E Makarova (RUS) / S Peng (CHN) – WTA
L Dekmeijere (LAT) / P Schnyder (SUI) vs [4] L Raymond (USA) / R Stubbs (AUS) – WTA

Not Before 1:00 PM
[1] D Nestor (CAN) / N Zimonjic (SRB) vs N Almagro (ESP) / T Robredo (ESP) – ATP
J Isner (USA) / S Querrey (USA) vs [4] M Bhupathi (IND) / M Mirnyi (BLR) – ATP
F Lopez (ESP) / F Verdasco (ESP) vs [6] S Aspelin (SWE) / P Hanley (AUS) – ATP

COURT 2 start 11:00 am
[19] S Wawrinka (SUI) vs [13] M Youzhny (RUS) – ATP
H Zeballos (ARG) vs [16] T Berdych (CZE) – ATP
[12] Y Wickmayer (BEL) vs T Bacsinszky (SUI) – WTA
[22] A Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) vs [2] C Wozniacki (DEN) – WTA

Not Before 5:00 PM
[7] J Jankovic (SRB) or [28] E Vesnina (RUS) vs [9] S Stosur (AUS) – WTA
M Kirilenko (RUS) / A Radwanska (POL) or [WC] K Clijsters (BEL) / K Flipkens (BEL) vs G Dulko (ARG) / F Pennetta (ITA) – To Be Arranged

COURT 3 start 1:00 pm
[3] L Dlouhy (CZE) / L Paes (IND) vs T Bellucci (BRA) / M Lopez (ESP) – ATP
[7] F Cermak (CZE) / M Mertinak (SVK) vs A Clement (FRA) / J Tsonga (FRA) – ATP

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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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Confidence Booster:  Venus Defends Dubai Title

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Confidence Booster: Venus Defends Dubai Title

dubai_logoVenus Williams has been turned away her last three finals while Victoria Azarenka has prevailed in three consecutive finals.  In the 10th edition of the Dubai Tennis Championships, third seed and defending champion Venus met fourth seed Victoria for the ultimate match.  Williams came out on top 6-3, 7-5 for her 42nd  WTA career title.

Williams had been supreme this week, winning all her matches in straight sets.  In the quarters, Williams defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova who had beaten her two times in a row.  From the first game, Williams was impressive with a forehand crosscourt winner for 40-0.  Serving at one all, Venus crushed a backhand down the line pass to hold for 2-1.  After a love game for 3-2, Williams forced Azarenka into two forehand errors for double break point.  Venus was gifted a double fault for 4-2.  However, serving for the set at 5-3, Venus committed two double faults.  Then, with a forehand crosscourt winner by Azarenka, Williams faced break point.  Yet again, Williams rifled some big serves to bail herself out, thereby carrying the set.

Still on the attack, Venus provoked Victoria into a couple of backhand miscues for double break point to open the second set.  Williams captured the break when Azarenka made her third consecutive backhand mistake.  With a couple of forehand winners, Venus easily took the next game.  Serving at 0-2, Azarenka missed a lob and went down 15-30.  Under pressure, Azarenka produced a couple of forehand winners to maintain a single break deficit.  With Williams consistent on the forehand side, Azarenka could make no headway.  But, Victoria’s opportunity finally arrived at 2-3 when Venus muffed a couple of strokes squandering two game points.  Afterwards, Williams double faulted giving Azarenka break point.  Victoria cashed in when Venus’ forehand sailed long.

The next game, despite Azarenka’s first serve letting her down, she held for 4-3.  The following few games, each woman guarded serve without complication.  However, at 5 all, Azarenka found danger.  By Venus chasing down every ball, Azarenka’s backhand coughed up errors leading to double break point.  With a forehand up the line winner, Williams grabbed a 6-5 edge.  After Azarenka saved two match points, Williams had a third with an Azarenka backhand miscue.  With two net courts in the same rally going in Venus’ favor, she sealed the title when Victoria dumped a volley into the net.

Read the full story

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