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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


IMG_4603_Sharapova
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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First Major of the Year, the Australian Open, Posts Its Draw


The 2009 Australian Open released the match up list today. For both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, the number one and two seeds respectively, it will be a treacherous path to the finals.

Potential semifinal opponents for Nadal include Andy Murray unstoppable of late whether facing Roger or him, Gilles Simon who had a spectacular win against him in Madrid last year and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the 2008 finalist. However, as of press time, it’s still a question mark whether Tsonga will take the court due to a back problem. For Federer, all roads to the finals seem to go through defending champion Novak Djokovic. The two appear destined for a semifinal rematch. The spoiler may be Andy Roddick who will possibly have to defeat Djokovic in the quarterfinals. Regardless, with his phenomenal record since losing in his first major final, no longer a novice, this may be Murray’s tournament for the taking.

Maria Sharapova, last year’s winner, will be unable to defend because she is rehabbing her shoulder post surgery. Therefore, on the women side, potential champions abound. Top seed Jelena Jankovic should sail through to the quarterfinals where she may battle Vera Zvonareva, a player Jelena has had little trouble crushing in the past. Ana Ivanovic, the 2008 runner up, and Dinara Safina are possibly heading for a quarterfinal clash. Either one could be an impediment to Jankovic making her second consecutive major final. But, Ivanovic’s play has been patchy lately; it would not be surprising if Caroline Wozniacki stops her from advancing. With the Williams sisters on the same side of the draw, Venus and Serena may meet in the semifinals. Venus may need to bypass Elena Dementieva or Flavia Pennetta while Serena may have to vanquish Victoria Azarenka who recently won her first tour title or Agnieszka Radwanska before the siblings can tango. With two titles under her belt already and a recent win over Serena, Dementieva will be no push over for Venus and is a genuine contender. Nevertheless, Venus is perhaps the underdog with the best chance to win it all considering how well she finished 2008. The first ball strike is in less than 72 hours. For a detailed look at the singles and doubles draws go to www.australianopen.com

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2008:  A Year Full Of Surprises On The Women’s Tour

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2008: A Year Full Of Surprises On The Women’s Tour


img_2867As another season concludes on the WTA, its is only fitting to reflect on the moments that branded it and look forward to what might be in store for 2009.

The Russian onslaught continues with half of the players ranked in the top ten coming from that nation. One of the pack’s standouts, Maria Sharapova, bulldozed over her opponents to win the year’s first major in Australia. However, after an impressive winning streak, Sharapova went on forced sabbatical due to an old shoulder injury resurfacing. Dinara Safina and Vera Zvonareva finally lived up to their promise, as these two had a phenomenal run in 2008. Sporting new coaches, these two women known for their volatile outburst on court, bottled their tempers which translated into great results. Safina’s newfound mental solidity carried her all the way to the French Open final. For her part, Zvonareva was a finalist at the year-end Sony Ericsson Championships where she lost a heartbreaking match to Venus Williams. Moreover, this powerhouse of tennis swept the medals at the Olympics with Elena Dementieva taking gold, Safina silver, and Zvonareva bronze. In team play, the Russians were also supreme, crushing Spain to grab another Federation cup.

The Serbians also became more firmly entrenched in the sport. After her defeat in the Australian final, Ana Ivanovic claimed her first major in Paris. Compatriot Jelena Jankovic made her first majors’ final appearance at the U.S. Open, but lost a tough three setter. As a result of the French Open title, Ivanovic captured the number one ranking. But with a niggling thumb injury, Ivanovic struggled the remainder of the year. On the other hand, Jankovic overflowing with confidence after her great U. S. Open showing, won three straight tournaments and finished the year at number one. Jelena is the third player after Lindsay Davenport and Martina Hingis to hold that honor despite failing to earn a major trophy.

The Williams sisters persist as the beacon of light of American tennis with Venus shining on her best surface, the grass at Wimbledon. Venus seized her fifth title at sister Serena’s expense. But the latter’s tears were short-lived as the siblings took the Wimbledon doubles title and repeated with doubles gold in Beijing. Moreover, Venus showed that at 28, she still could keep up with her younger peers by winning both in Zurich and at the prestigious year-end championships. While Serena, no spring chicken herself, prevailed for the third time at the U.S. Open.

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