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Murray Falls to Dimitrov at the Miami Open

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Murray Falls to Dimitrov at the Miami Open

Miami, Ricky Dimon @Dimonator

First it was Roger Federer. Then it was Rafael Nadal. And the hits have kept coming at the Miami Open.

Federer withdrew from the tournament due to illness, while Nadal could not get through his first match because of issues related to the heat. David Ferrer followed his fellow Spaniard out of South Beach by losing to Lucas Pouille on Sunday night. On the women’s side, Serena Williams and Agnieszka Radwanska both lost on Monday afternoon. The carnage continued when Andy Murray succumbed to Grigor Dimitrov 6-7(1), 6-4, 6-3 during third-round action.

Dimitrov trailed 3-1 in the final set but reeled off five straight games to wrap up the victory in impressive style after two hours and 25 minutes. It was a much-needed result–and one of his best ever–for the Bulgarian, who currently registers 20 spots off his career-high ranking at 28th in the world. He had not defeated a top-10 opponent since upsetting then-No. 9 Stan Wawrinka at the Monte-Carlo Masters last spring. This is Dimitrov’s second-even win at the expense of a top-2 opponent, having previously stunned world No. 1 Novak Djokovic on the clay courts of Madrid in 2013.

“I’m happy,” Dimitrov assured. “Of course I’m happy with that victory. Every time you beat a top player you know you must have done something good.

“I played quite a few times against [Murray]. I think we know our games pretty well. I just played better in the good moments today. That’s it. I think I was just a smart player throughout the course of the whole match. Even though I lost the first set, I kept a good composure…. I think when I was 3-1 down in the third set, I really felt that I know I’m going to get another chance because I was returning well, playing very good in the key moments.”

Murray played a near-flawless first-set tiebreaker, but he struggled in the pressure-packed moments throughout the duration of the proceedings. After trailing 4-0 in the second set, he had a break point to get back on level terms at 5-5 but could not convert. The Scot also dropped his last three service games of the match without even getting to deuce a single time.

“(I made) a lot of unforced errors in the third set for sure,” Murray lamented. “Obviously (I) didn’t start the second set particularly well. After winning a close first set you obviously want to try and put your opponent under pressure. Credit to him. He was more solid than me…. Physically it was okay. I mean, the conditions were actually not that bad today. It was just humid. Obviously the cloud cover helped. It was just very, very humid. Physically I was okay.”

Dimitrov will have to be ready for another physical battle against Gael Monfils on Tuesday. Monfils has enjoyed a much more routine trek through the Miami draw, having disposed of Tatsuma Ito and Pablo Cuevas in easy straight sets. Dimitrov, on the other hand, preceded his triumph over Murray by outlasting Federico Delbonis 7-6(8), 4-6, 6-4 in two hours and 39 minutes.

Joining Dimitrov and Monfils in the last 16 were Nick Kyrgios, Kei Nishikori, Roberto Bautista Agut, and Andrey Kuznetsov.

Ricky Dimon is a contributor in Miami and writes for tenngrand.com. You can follow him on Twitter under @Dimonator by clicking here.

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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


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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Li Na, Cibulkova advance to Sony Open semifinals

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Li Na, Cibulkova advance to Sony Open semifinals

IMG_7825_LiIt will be a rematch of the Australian Open women’s final in the semifinal of the Sony Open as both Li Na and Dominika Cibulkova advanced on Wednesday. Li won the Australian Open in straight sets for her second major title.

No. 10 seed Dominika Cibulkova saved three match points in the second set en route to a 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-3 victory over Agnieszka Radwanska, No. 2 Li Na won the last 4 straight games to close out Caroline Wozniacki 7-5, 7-5.

Cibulkova won despite poor serving and unforced errors. She had her serve broken 10 times and double-faulted 8 times, committing 51 unforced errors.

One of her match points saved came on a controversial call which was overturned due a challenge.

He match against Radwanska was a repeat of the Australian Open semifinal where the Slovak won over the Pole to make her first major final.

The Slovak who is in the Sony Open semis for the first time, will enter the top ten for the first time when the rankings come out on Monday.

“I’m really glad, especially about my win today,” Cibulkova said.

“It wasn’t easy at all to play today against Aga with the wind and conditions, and I had to stay aggressive all the time even if I missed many shots, you know. I just had to keep going.

“So today the match was really tough, and I’m happy about everything, you know. Before the match, even before the tournament, like they keep asking me, Top 10 and everything, and I just, you know, I just said, like, Okay, if I should be there, I will be there. If I should not be there, I will not be there.

“So now I’m there. So finally it’s over.”

“I think it was so close, the second set,” Radwanska said. “But I think, you know, in those matches you have to play good and you have to be lucky.

“I was just playing good and she was both.”

With Li Na’s win, she become the first Chinese player to reach the Sony Open semifinals.

“I think today I was feeling she was the best to defend in all the tour, so I was feeling a little bit like player against a wall,” Li said about her match against Wozniacki. “Because doesn’t matter where is it. She always come and put the ball back to my court.

“After I was finished the match, I was feeling, Wow, you doing good. You beat a wall. Yeah.”

On Thursday six–time Sony Open winner No. 1 Serena Williams will take on five-time finalist and No. 4 seed Maria Sharapova in the first women’s semifinal. Williams holds a 15-2 record against the Russian, winning the last 14 straight matches dating back to 2004.

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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WTA Veterans Advance to fourth round at the Sony Open

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WTA Veterans Advance to fourth round at the Sony Open

IMG_7049_Cibulkova(March 23, 2014) Li Na held off Madison Keys 7-6(3), 6-3 in a slugfest on Sunday morning at the Sony Open to reach the fourth round.

The world No. 2 and young American who are both represented by agent Max Eisenbud, each broke serve three time in the opening set. Along with hitting deep groundstrokes, both women committed tons of unforced errors.

Li saved set points, down 3-5 in first set and was forced to rebound from being a break down at 0-2 early in the second set. Keys was within a point of going up 3-0 in the second set.

“I think it was pretty tough match,” Li said. “I think she play well, big serve, big forehand, especially when she was like 3‑1 down and then come back 5‑3‑up and serve for the first set.

“She’s No. 2 in the world for a reason,” Keys said. “She just won Australian Open for a reason. She’s a great player.”

Carla Suárez Navarro, who cruised past No.24 seed Kaia Kanepi, 6-2, 6-1 will face the world No. 2 in fourth round.

No. 3 seed Agnieszka Radwanska had to fight breaks in both sets to stop Elena Vesnina 7-5, 6-3.

Three-time Sony Open champion Venus Williams edged out wildcard Casey Dellacqua 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 to reach the fourth round.

The match which lasted two-and-a-half hours saw Williams commit 44 unforced errors but she hit 11 aces in the win.

“She’s playing so well and mixing her shots up so I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but definitely looking forward to the next round,” Venus Williams said.

“I do try and compete. I mean, being out here, even if it’s not your best day, no matter what the circumstances are, for me, I just try to walk off the court knowing at least even if I didn’t play my best I gave 100,000%.”

Williams will face No. 10 Dominika Cibulkova, who beat No. 22 Alice Cornet 7-6 (6), 6-1.

Elina Svitolina, came back from a set and a break down to beat Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1.

The night match saw No. 18 Caroline Wozniacki destroy No. 16 Sloane Stephens 6-1, 6-0 on Stadium court in less than an hour.

“I’m pleased about the way I played,” Wozniacki said. Definitely very happy about the performance out there.

“Just got my butt kicked, and that’s about it really,” Stephens said.

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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Li Na, Radwanska, Venus roll into next round at Sony Open

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Li Na, Radwanska, Venus roll into next round at Sony Open

IMG_2397_RadwanskaSony Open No. 2 seed Li Namade it to the third round without striking a ball on Friday when her opponent Alisa Kleybanova pulled out of the tournament due to a viral illness. Kleybanova, is making a comeback from Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Kleybanova wasn’t the only withdrawal on the day for the women. No. 6 Simona Halep pulled out before her match due to a right toe injury.

2012 champion Agnieszka Radwanska stopped Romina Oprandi 6-0, 6-4.

“First of all, I started very well,” the No. 3 seed said. “She started to play much better in the second set and we had a lot of breaks and long games – it was tricky, and I was getting a bit nervous.

“But I was happy I could finish this match in two sets today.”

Other seeded winners on the day included (10) Dominika Cibulkova over Yvonne Meusburger 6-1, 6-2, (11) Caroline Wozniacki had to fight her opponent and the crowd when she topped Monica Puig 6-1, 1-6, 6-3, (15) Carla Suarez Navarro beat Chanelle Scheepers 6-4, 6-1 and (17) Sloane Stephens (17) won over Zarina Diyas 7-5, 6-3.

American Varvara Lepchenko pulled off the upset of the day on the ladies side of the draw by ousting No. 7 Jelena Jankovic 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (2). Other surprises included Barbora Zahlavova Strycova who topped 13 seed Roberta Vinci 6-4, 2-6, 7-5, Elina Svitolina stunned 21st seed Eugenie Bouchard 1-6, 6-1, 6-2, Ajla Tomljanovic defeated (30) Garbine Muguruza and young American Madison Keys stopped (31) Daniela Hantuchova 6-4, 6-2.

“I’m really happy about it,” Keys said. “I mean, I think I served well. I think that really helped me today.

The next challenge for Keys will be No. 2 seed Li Na.

“I mean, she’s a great player. She’s obviously done a lot in her career, so really happy to get through that one.”

“It’s such a good experience,” Keys commenting on the match-up in the third round.

“She’s a great player. She just won the Australian Open so she’s obviously doing well.

“Yeah, just a good experience and excited to go play.”

Former No. 1 and 29th seed Venus Williams moved on by beating Anna Schmiedlova 6-3, 6-3 in the night session.

For the 33-year-old who is playing her 15th Sony Open it’s her first match since winning the Dubai title last month.

“I have been working hard since then, and I feel really confident, you know, in every situation I’m in on the court.

“So I think that, you know, it was a big help for me in Dubai.”

“She’s competitive, a new player,” Williams said about playing Schmiedlova. “You never know what their game is really going to be like. I’d never even seen her play.

“But it’s obviously great to be in the next round.” She’ll play in the third round against Casey Dellacqua.

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 Rolls Past Jankovic, Back in Sony Open Final

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Sharapova Rolls Past Jankovic, Back in Sony Open Final

Maria Sharapova is into her fifth Sony Open final after taking out Jelena Jankovic 6-2, 6-1 in the first women’s semifinal in Miami.

Sharapova is attempting to win her first ever title in Miami as well as completing the Indian Wells/Miami double. The last player to achieve that feat was Kim Clijsters in 2005.

“Yeah, I mean, it would be nice, but, you know, winning a title on its own, whether it’s here or Indian Wells, is a great achievement on its own”, said Sharapova. “To be able to come back from that and, you know, recover in just a few days and come back to the final here, I mean, it’s great.”

Asked about her chances in Saturday’s final Sharapova responded, “Well, it’s another final. It’s great to be putting myself in a position of this tournament to get into finals. I don’t know who has been in five finals of this event in the women’s draw, so it’s certainly, you know, a big consistent at this tournament but yet I haven’t won it, so it would mean a lot for me to be the champion here.”

A finalist in Miami in 2008, Jankovic had a quick turn over today after her match versus Vinci last night lasted over two hours.

“I served poorly today. I had a really low percentage of first serves. Overall, I wasn’t moving. I felt heavy on the court.”, said Jankovic. “I felt really tired and exhausted. So I didn’t really have enough time to recover. I finished the match last night at 11:00. I went to sleep at 1:00 by the time I came back to the hotel. Woke up early, had to play. So the schedule was tough. So today I wasn’t on the top of my game, and I wasn’t playing the way I wanted to, you know, especially on a big occasion like playing the semifinals.”

Sharapova will face either 2012 Sony Open champion Agnieszka Radwanska or Serena Williams in Saturday’s final. Radwanska faces Williams in the second semifinal match tonight in Miami.

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Serena Williams Toasts of The Championships with a Fifth Title

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Serena Williams Toasts of The Championships with a Fifth Title

Wimbledon 2010 was the ultimate major Serena Williams captured before being sidelined by a foot injury which led to other health complications and a year hiatus from tennis. Today, Williams came full circle by winning her first major since rejoining the tour last June. At the All England Club, Williams defeated world number three Agnieszka Radwanska in the final 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 for a fifth trophy at The Championships and her 14th major overall.

Facing an opponent who is in her maiden major final, Williams had to guard against the desire to phone in the victory. In 2004, Williams, the runaway favorite, was stunned by newcomer Maria Sharapova in the Wimbledon final.
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Radwanska Derails Sharapova for Sony Ericsson Open Championship

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Radwanska Derails Sharapova for Sony Ericsson Open Championship

In front of the biggest crowd in attendance for a women’s final since 1998 at the Sony Ericsson Open, Agneiszka Radwanska, the world number four, who has been impressive the last twelve months surprised world number two Maria Sharapova 7-5, 6-4 to bank her first title in Miami.

These two ladies had battled eight previous times with Sharapova coming out on top on seven occasions. Radwanska’s sole win was as an eighteen year old at the U.S. Open in 2007. Consequently, all seemed in Sharapova’s favor as she tried to capture her first Sony Ericsson title after being disappointed on three prior tries, the last in 2011.

Sharapova always the aggressor had her initial break point of the opening set by striking a winner. Yet, with her forehand traveling long, Sharapova could not capitalize. Thus, Radwanska held for 3-2.
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Sharapova and Radwanska to Decide Sony Ericsson Open Title on Saturday

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Sharapova and Radwanska to Decide Sony Ericsson Open Title on Saturday

The ladies Sony Ericsson Open final will be contested between the world number two and four. Maria Sharapova will have to fend off Agnieszka Radwanska in order to claim her first title at this tournament.

Radwanska, a maiden finalist in Miami, has been in great form the last twelve months. The Pole has already pocketed a big title in Dubai and is at a career high in the rankings.

Previously, Sharapova had reached three finals at Sony Ericsson Open in 2005, 2006 and 2011. Moreover, Sharapova is seeking her initial title of the year after being stopped by world number one Victoria Azarenka at the Australian Open and Indian Wells.
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Mauresmo Magnificent At Home Embraces Silver Career Title

Today, France’s Amelie Mauresmo demonstrated that writing her tennis obituary might be premature.  Mauresmo defeated Russian Elena Dementieva in the finals of the Open GDF Suez in Paris 7-6, 2-6, 6-4 to capture her 25th trophy and her first in two years.

Off the bat, Mauresmo went down a break after netting a volley.  Luckily, with a double fault, Mauresmo got a break point and delivered when Dementieva’s backhand crosscourt went long. After the players traded breaks again; at two all, Dementieva secured another break with a forehand crosscourt winner and then consolidated with a love game for 4-2.  The next game was pivotal as Mauresmo saved a break point and held for 3-4.  As Dementieva served for the set at 5-4, Mauresmo’s versatility, particularly on the backhand, forced errors from her opponent, allowing her to break.  The set went to a tiebreak.  With a forehand winner, Dementieva had set point; but it vanished when she was unable to pass Mauresmo at net.  Subsequently, Amelie, herself, arrived at set point when Dementieva’s crosscourt forehand found the bottom of the net.  Then, Amelie handcuffed Elena with a great body serve to wrap up the set after 1 hour and 14 minutes.

With a double fault and a few errors from Dementieva, Mauresmo had the early break in the second set.  However, after being ahead 30-0, Amelie made some rare backhand errors to relinquish her lead.  After appearing to be on her way to an easy hold at 40-15, Mauresmo misfired on the backhand again and mistimed a ball which ended up going over her racket giving Dementieva the winner and a service break.  At 2-5, Mauresmo double faulted to hand Dementieva set point and double faulted anew to gift her the set.

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