Tag Archive | "Serena"

Shocker Saturday at the Miami Open: Osaka Out, Serena Withdraws

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Shocker Saturday at the Miami Open: Osaka Out, Serena Withdraws


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Two points was all the world number one needed to saunter into the round of 16 at the Miami Open. Instead up 6-4, 5-4 and 30-0 in the second set, Naomi Osaka donated two double faults in the game to hand her opponent a break point. Once Osaka’s backhand landed wide, the score was leveled at 5-5. Still, there were chances in the tiebreak which went unclaimed by the Japanese star. Consequently, the match was decided with a third set.

Osaka secured a 2-0 lead when Su-Wei Hsieh double faulted at 15-40. But the veteran from Chinese Taipei was not discouraged. By swarming the net, she was up 0-30. Once Osaka’s backhand landed on her side of the net, Hsieh had break point. She converted by striking a return winner. Throughout the decisive set, Osaka was under the hatchet. Many times, the world number one found herself at 0-30 on her serve. She finally paid the price in the seventh game when a couple of errors delivered the 4-3 advantage to her rival. Subsequent to consolidating for 5-3, Hsieh went back to work. She arrived at her another break point which this time was a match point. Hsieh seized the victory 4-6, 7-6, 6-3 with a volley winner.

The Japanese player had clashed with Hsieh twice before. Thus, she should have known not have counted success until the umpire calls game set and match. In essence that was what she did “I think in that moment I got ahead of myself, but all the other times it was pretty fine. Like, I knew it was going to be a tough match playing her.. . I was kind of immature today. I was thinking too much, like everything was on my racquet. Honestly, she has the ability to make winners, too, whenever she wants.”

For Osaka, being in the position of number one and being expected to always win, she admits is added pressure “I think there’s a difference between having confidence and sort of getting ahead of yourself. . . the last time I played her, she was up two breaks or something, 4-1, I don’t remember if that was one or two breaks. I was just thinking, I was in a bigger hole last time, so I should be able to dig myself out of the hole this time. I completely forgot that she also learned things from that match. It wasn’t just me that was playing there. I just think it wasn’t that I had a big head, but I think I wasn’t really thinking about all of the things that was happening”.

After the Australian Open, Osaka had a major change, parting with Sascha Bajin. This is her second tournament with new coach Jermaine Jenkins. One area which failed Osaka today was her serve as she attempted to close out her counterpart “I’ve been working on my serve a lot these last two tournaments. And definitely it’s improved from Indian Wells to here. . .I don’t think the percentage was that great today. I was slowly starting to count on it again like I used to. . .I’ve been working a lot on my second serve. I think I need to continue practicing it because she was stepping in a lot and being very aggressive. That’s not something I want people to do. . .I think it’s interesting whenever you change coaches because there’s always an adjustment time. . .I think that I played pretty good today actually, if I get over the fact that I lost. I think I played a lot of good rallies. Of course, there were some shots that I tried to hit a winner on to early. I just do that sometimes. It’s nothing to be negative about. . .I think definitely we have a lot of ideas that we need to swap, so we really need to talk about that.

2017 Miami Open finalist Caroline Wozniacki overcame the antics of mercurial Romanian Monica Niculescu 6-4, 7-6 to march on to the round of 16. She will take on Hsieh next.

Petra Kvitová outlasted Donna Vekic in a 2 hour 36 minute contest. The 2 time Wimbledon champion edged out her rival 6-4, 3-6, 6-4. In the fourth round, Kvitová will clash with Caroline Garcia who dispatched Julia Goerges 6-0, 7-5.

In the battle of the Aussie, Ashleigh Barty bounced former U.S. Open winner Samantha Stosur 6-0, 6-3. Her opponent will be Kiki Bertens. The seventh seed coasted to triumph after dropping the first set with a 3-6, 6-0, 6-1 win over Viktoria Kuzmova.

Eight-time Miami Open champion Serena Williams was forced to withdraw from the tournament due to a left knee injury.

With the withdrawal, the tournament’s No. 18 seed Qiang Wang of China advances to the fourth round.

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Serena, Osaka Tested in Reaching Third Round at the Miami Open

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Serena, Osaka Tested in Reaching Third Round at the Miami Open


IMG_3833_Serena_newSubsequent to taking only 24 minutes to pocket the opening set 6-0 at the Miami Open, Naomi Osaka was seriously challenged by former world number 12 and 2009 U.S. Open semifinalist Yanina Wickmayer. The Belgian fought back to seal the second set in a tiebreaker. However, in the decisive set, Osaka demonstrated the strength which garnered her the last two majors. After breaking and consolidating for a 3-0 lead, the world number one grabbed an insurance break. Later, with a crosscourt running forehand, Osaka set up triple match point. With Wickmayer’s return sailing wide, the Japanese woman secured her spot into the third round with a 6-0, 6-7, 6-1 victory. Osaka will face 27th seed Su-Hei Hsieh.

Osaka’s view as to why her journey got convoluted “It was really hard for me emotionally in the second set because I just started thinking about winning, not exactly the things I could do in order to win. I had a bit of a dip. She was also playing well. . .When I’m really in emotionally stressful situations, I find it easier to focus when [I shut down my emotions]. . .I just think it’s sort of an energy saver because of constantly being riled up for every point, I can just keep moving on to the next one. . . I think between the second and third set I tried to breathe and regroup.”

Venus Williams also forms part of the last 32. After a difficult first set, the three time champion coasted in the second for a 7-6, 6-1 win over Carla Suarez Navarro. The American battles the crafty Russian Daria Kasatkina in the next session. Kasatkina dashed the hopes of 15 year old American Cori Gauff after the youngster celebrated her maiden WTA tour conquest.

Serena Williams got off to a slow start surrendering the initial game after being ahead in the score. Still, the eight time Miami Open titlist clawed back to pocket the first set 6-3. Then, with a sleuth of miscues, Serena relinquished the second set 1-6 to Rebecca Peterson. Once again, it was matter of refocusing, as the 23 time major winner dominated the ultimate set for a 6-3, 1-6, 6-1 triumph. What got the former number one through was reiterating to herself “I could not lose this match. I knew that I could play a lot, lot, lot better. I just had to be better. At this point it was irresponsible to be playing the way I was playing in the second set. That determination was, I cannot lose this match just really kicked in. What do I need to do to win this match?” In the third round, Serena will square off against Qiang Wang who bounced 2017 Miami Open titleholder Johanna Konta.

Defending champion Sloane Stephens sailed through in straight sets 6-2, 6-3 against Ons Jabeur. In the following match Stephens will collide with German Tatjana Maria.

Garbine Muguruza is out. The French Open and Wimbledon titlist’s stay in the sunshine state was cut short by qualifier Monica Niculescu. The Spaniard was no match for the Romanian’s brand of industrious play which included a series of slices, dropshots, even an underhand surprise serve on match point which are her trademark. Niculescu prevailed 7-6, 6-4, 6-2. She will next take on Caroline Wozniacki who disposed of Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-4, 6-4.

After finding the ripcord down 1-5 and match point in the second set in the previous round, Indian Wells winner Bianca Andreescu had a less adventurous path today as she conquered 32nd seed Sofia Kenin 6-3, 6-3. Her opponent in the third round will be Angelique Kerber. The German had to work hard for her 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 win over 22 year old Karolina Muchova. Consequently, their third round will be a rematch of the Indian Wells final on this past Sunday.

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Miami Open: New Home with Same Residents as Serena, Djokovic and Federer Get Acclimated

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Miami Open: New Home with Same Residents as Serena, Djokovic and Federer Get Acclimated


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There was no azure sky to welcome the Miami Open at its new venue as a constant drizzle washed out the first round of play. Nevertheless, two weeks of exhilarating tennis prepare to unfold as many familiar faces will parade through with the goal of capturing the title.

On the gentlemen’s side, three time champion Roger Federer is on a collision course in the quarterfinals with 2018 Wimbledon Finalist Kevin Anderson. The South African surprised the former world number one in the Wimbledon quarterfinals last year after Federer was up two sets to none. Stefanos Tsitsipas, the 20 year Greek, who upended Federer a few months ago at the Australian Open could be Federer’s opponent in the semifinals.

Fresh off his biggest title at Indian Wells, Dominic Thiem will attempt to garner the rare sunshine double. However, he will likely need to go through reigning world number one Novak Djokovic, a six time titlist in Miami. Moreover, John Isner, the defending champion will have plenty to say. He is slated to clash with Djokovic in the quarterfinals.

Naomi Osaka will have to show the form that led her to capture the last two majors if she plans to walk away with her first trophy in Miami. The world number one could potentially meet Garbine Muguruza, the 2016 French Open and 2017 Wimbledon champion, in the fourth round or 2018 Australian Open winner, Caroline Wozniacki. In the quarterfinals, 2 time major holder, Angelique Kerber possibly awaits Osaka. To add to the degree of difficulty, the semifinals could be a rematch of this year’s Australian Open final with Petra Kvitová.

Still searching for her maiden trophy since the birth of her baby, Serena Williams is back at one of her favorite events. The eight time titlist will likely find world number two Simona Halep in the quarterfinals in her way. In the semifinals, defending champion Sloane Stephens or Karolina Pliskova could be Serena’s obstacle. Pliskova shocked the 23 time major holder this year in Australia down 1-5 in the third set in the quarterfinals. As a 3 time victor in Miami, unseeded big sister Venus is also a dangerous floater on Serena’s side of the draw as well.

As the storms clear, who will ultimately shine in the South Florida sun on championship day? Stay tuned.

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2019 Miami Open Player Field Announced

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2019 Miami Open Player Field Announced


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The 2019 Miami Open will break ground at its new location at the Hard Rock Stadium next month.

Today, the tournament announced the players field that will be taking to courts at the state of the art facilities in Miami Gardens. The ATP and WTA field includes a total of 19 Major singles champions.

The men’s side will be highlighted by the 2019 Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic. Joining Djokovic in Miami are the likes of Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Juan Martin del Potro and 2018 Miami Open champion John Isner.

The women’s side will be highlighted by the 2019 Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka. Osaka will be joined by defending Miami Open champion Sloane Stephens, Serena Williams, Simona Halep, Petra Kvitova and Caroline Wozniacki.

Here is the official press release from tournament:

Miami Gardens, FL (February 6, 2019) – The 2019 Miami Open presented by Itaú will make its debut at Hard Rock Stadium March 18-31, and fans will have the opportunity to see one of the best player fields in tennis at its new lifestyle and entertainment venue.

This year’s extraordinary lineup features 19 players who have combined to win 108 career Grand Slam singles titles including all-time record holders Roger Federer and Serena Williams. Reigning Australian Open champions, and the world’s No. 1 ranked players, Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka top one of the strongest ATP and WTA tournament draws of 2019.

Overall, each of the top 79 ranked men and 76 ranked women have entered to compete in Miami.

Federer and Djokovic lead a men’s field that includes 17-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal, three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka, and former US Open champions Juan Martin del Potro and Marin Cilic, along with defending Miami Open champion John Isner.

The player field also boasts the next generation of ATP stars including World No. 3 Alexander Zverev, Australian Open semifinalist Stefanos Tsitsipas, American Frances Tiafoe and Australian Nick Kyrgios.

The women’s field is even more impressive. Osaka, winner of the last two Grand Slam singles titles, leads a field that includes 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams and defending Miami Open champion Sloane Stephens. Fans also will have the opportunity to see seven-time Grand Slam Champion Venus Williams, five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova, two-time Grand Slam winner Garbiñe Muguruza, two-time Grand Slam winner Angelique Kerber, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, reigning French Open champion Simona Halep, 2018 Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki and 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.

The player field however is just part of the story.

Tournament Owner IMG and Miami Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross partnered to keep the Miami Open in Miami and have worked together to build a permanent world-class tennis facility that will provide an elevated fan experience while incorporating a unique Miami look and feel. The improved amenities will allow the tournament to host a true lifestyle and entertainment event featuring the best in tennis, art, food and music.

Tickets to the 2019 Miami Open are on sale now and available by phone at 305-943-6736 or online at www.miamiopen.com. Individual session tickets start at just $28 so get your tickets today. Ticket packages, group programs, and luxury hospitality offerings also are available.

Qualifying rounds will be March 18-19 and will determine 12 additional slots in each singles draw. The Miami Open also will award wildcards to five men and eight women. The women’s main draw begins on Tuesday, March 19, followed by the first round of the men’s main draw on Wednesday, March 20.

ATP Acceptance List (as of February 6, 2019)

Name Country Rank
Novak Djokovic, SRB, 01
Rafael Nadal, ESP, 02
Alexander Zverev, GER, 03
Juan Martin del Potro, ARG, 04
Kevin Anderson, RSA, 05
Roger Federer, SUI, 06
Kei Nishikori, JPN, 07
Dominic Thiem, AUT, 08
John Isner, USA, 09

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Osaka Soars with First Australian Open Championship and Claims Number One Ranking

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Osaka Soars with First Australian Open Championship and Claims Number One Ranking


Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships - Day 6 - Saturday 7th July 2018 -  All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club - Wimbledon - London - England
The 2019 Australian Open championship was a contest between two endearing women. Naomi Osaka world number 4 and Petra Kvitová ranked 8th. The fact that these were not novices, the former the reigning U.S. Open champion and the latter 2 time Wimbledon titlist, foretold the potential for a thrilling final. It lived up to its billing. In the end, Osaka walked away with the Daphne Akhurst trophy by prevailing 7-6, 5-7, 6-4.

Osaka displayed her anxiety by double faulting to begin the match. Yet, the Japanese star managed to hold serve. Her initial time, Kvitová sailed through with a love game which Osaka duplicated for 2-1. In the fifth game, Kvitová twice tattooed backhand crosscourt return winners to set up break points. Still, Osaka found the ripcord to stay on serve at 3-2. Then by forcing a forehand miscue from her rival, the Japanese player set up break point. However, the Czech star successfully extricated herself out of that situation. Swiftly, with a double fault and backhand mistake by Osaka, Kvitová had triple break point. Anew, the 2018 U.S. Open winner battled to level the score at deuce and pocketed the game for 4-3. Serving at 5-6, Kvitova netted a backhand to gift Osaka set point. With a winner, the Czech wrestled herself out of that jam. Osaka had a second chance to wrap up the set which she wasted. Thus, the tiebreaker was called upon. Osaka took control by striking backhand down the line return winner for a 2-0 mini break lead. Then, with a forehand up the line winner, she secured a 5-1 cushion. The Japanese competitor promptly closed out the set.

Kvitová responded to the challenge by holding to start the second. Also, seventh time was the charm, as the Czech thumped a forehand return crosscourt for a winner to break for 2-0. Unable to consolidate on three game points, Kvitova double faulted to hand Osaka break point. Soon, Kvitova misfired on a backhand to donate the game. Later, Osaka converted on triple break point and bagged the next 4 games. Nevertheless, Kvitová didn’t relent. Down 3-5 and 0-40, one point from defeat, with stellar serving, the Czech won the next 5 points to hold. Incredulous, Osaka faltered attempting to finish things off. Visibly perturbed as a double fault handed Kvitová double break point. Osaka erred on a forehand to equalize the set at 5 all. After salvaging break point, Kvitová seized on a break point opportunity. She pocketed the 4 consecutive games to push the final to a deciding set.

Towards the latter part of the second, Osaka’s emotions overwhelmed her. She berated herself for each error and concluded with a double fault on triple break point. Coming out to play the third, it’s as if she turned on the serenity switch. Kvitová continued the momentum with a love hold. However, the Japanese star halted the slide for 1-1. Then, she capitalized on a double fault which contributed break point by landing a backhand crosscourt winner. Subsequently, Osaka extended her lead to 3-1. Still, the Czech preserved. Serving at 2-4 and down 0-40, once again, Kvitová escaped by connecting choice serves and winners. Surely, Osaka had to do her utmost to block out the sensation of deja vu. Unlike the second set, Osaka shrugged away the evaporated chances with a love game. Regardless, Kvitová was going to make the 21 year old earn the victory after holding for 4-5. Demonstrating nerves of steel, Osaka stepped up with an ace, forehand up the line winner and provoked a backhand wide from Kvitová to arrive at triple championship point. Finally as on Osaka’s 5th try, as Kvitová backhand travelled wide, she secured the trophy.

A home invasion in December 2016 caused injury to four of Kvitova’s fingers on her left hand as she warded off an attacker carrying a knife. Following her surgery, Kvitová’s tennis future was in limbo. In an interview before the match, the Czech cited “Not many people believe that I can do that again[get to the final after five years]. I did not know if I would ever play tennis again, it’s been a long journey.”

After the match, the admirable runner up expressed “it’s crazy. I can’t believe I played a final of a grand slam again” as spectator shouted “we love you Petra”. A feeling that clearly reverberated through the stadium and touched her deeply. Kvitová went on to say despite the outcome “it’s a great tournament so for me it’s a big honor to hold this beautiful trophy as well.” The 2 time major holder turned to her opponent “It was a great final well done Naomi; to your team as well. You really played well. Congrats on being number one.”

Above all, Kvitová realized that without the support from family, friends and her team, she would never reach this stage “thank you for sticking with me even though we didn’t know if I’d be able to hold the racket again. Every single day supporting me, staying positive for me when I really needed it. It probably wasn’t easy. Thank you so much”.

Osaka is the first back to back winner at the majors since Serena Williams in 2015 and the first since Jennifer Capriati in 2001 to triumph at their initial first two tries at the majors. In disbelief of her accomplishments, Osaka began by apologizing “sorry, public speaking is really not my strong side. Huge congrats to you Petra. I’ve always wanted to play you, you’ve been through so much. Honestly, I would not have wanted this to be our first match. Huge congrats to you and your team. You are really amazing and I’m really honored to have played you in the final of a grand slam”.

The Japanese player went on to say to the crowd “I want to thank you guys for coming and watching. It’s really hot at times, [nevertheless], you come out and show support. I really want to show my gratitude to you”. She also acknowledged her box “I don’t think I would have made it through this week without you guys. Behind a tennis player there is always a team, so I’m really grateful. So thank you everyone. I’m really honored to have played in this final”.

The experience was quite different from Osaka’s last outing in a major final “In New York, the crowd was for Serena. Here it felt like it was split. When I heard the crowd was for both of us, I was happy. At the same time, I was just focused on playing the match”. Referring to her meltdown at the closure of the second set, Osaka confessed when she walked off “I was in tears. [She told herself] my second time playing in a final, I can’t act entitled playing one of the best players in the world to loose a set and suddenly, I think I am so much better than her that it isn’t a possibility. I wanted to enjoy my time here. Last year, I lost in the fourth round. This year I was in the final. I wanted to enjoy my time and have no regrets about today”

Osaka’s rise appears meteoric to those on the sidelines, finishing at 144 in 2015, floundering in the top 70’s in 2017 to this stage. Yet, she iterated “to me it doesn’t. For me, every practice, every match that I’ve played, the year feels short and long at the same time. But I’m aware of all the work that I’ve put in; I’m aware of all the sacrifices that every player does to stay at this level. In my opinion, it didn’t feel fast. It feels kind of long”.

Prior to the match, Osaka reflected “everyone has dreams that they want to win. I’ve had dreams that I’ve won this tournament and I don’t want to jinx it. Now that I’ve won a grand slam, the biggest thing for me is the belief. I think I believe in myself more this year. I want to win another one. I feel lucky that I’m kind of unknown. I’m a ghost, you don’t see me”. Even if she or others may have thought the U.S. Open was a fluke, with her second major, Osaka is no longer invisible any longer. Moreover, by ascending to world number one, she has beenforced out the shadow into the light. The Australian Open is her coming out party.

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Osaka Gives Japan Maiden Major by Upending Serena in the U.S. Open Final

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Osaka Gives Japan Maiden Major by Upending Serena in the U.S. Open Final


Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships - Day 6 - Saturday 7th July 2018 -  All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club - Wimbledon - London - EnglandBoth U.S. Open finalists were on the precipice of history. For Serena Williams an eighth title at Flushing Meadows would have been another accolade by equalizing Margaret Court with a record 24th major. While for Naomi Osaka lifting the trophy would brand her as the first individual from Japan to ever capture one of the sports’ highest honors. Ultimately, it was the 20 year old who realized her dream. Osaka surprised Serena 6-2, 6-4 to capture the championship.

For Osaka, who as a youngster watched from the top bleacher as her idol held court at this same venue, to be in the final felt “a little bit, surreal. Even when I was a little kid, I always dreamed that I would play Serena in a final of a Grand Slam. Just the fact that it’s happening, I’m very happy about it. At the same time I feel like even though I should enjoy this moment, I should still think of it as another match. Yeah, I shouldn’t really think of her as, like, my idol. I should just try to play her as an opponent.” That approach to the biggest encounter of her budding career served her well.

Perhaps it was a display of nerves at the start, but each player overcame a 0-30 deficit in her opening game. However, with Serena’s forehand flying long, Osaka had a break point. With the American miscuing with a double fault, Osaka went up 2-1. Soon, with an ace at 40-15, the Japanese protégé confirmed the break. In the next game, applying pressure with her groundstrokes, Osaka had Serena facing break point. When the American’s backhand found the net, Osaka secured a 4-1 cushion. With a forehand volley winner, Williams secured her initial break point. Coolly with an ace, Osaka was at deuce. With Serena failing to capitalize on another break point, Osaka built a 5-1 lead. Visibly flummoxed, Serena with the support of a boisterous crowd climbed out of 0-30 hole to hold. Yet, Osaka would not be denied. Up 40-15, she saw Serena dump a forehand return into the net to cap the opening set.

Osaka’s best previous showing at a major was the fourth round at this year’s Australian Open where she succumbed to world number one, Simona Halep. Thus far, her first and only career title came this year at Indian Wells. Her next tournament at the Miami Open, she stunned Serena in the early rounds who had been back from maternity leave. But, since March, Osaka’s results had been subpar. Although Osaka had a record 31-0 after winning the first set, this was the big league. The experience chasm which divided these two in terms of experience couldn’t be starker. However, the combination of Serena’s dire 38% first serve stat, her 2-7 mark in major finals after surrendering the first set, the last comeback being 13 years ago at the Australian Open, underlined that Osaka had history on her side.

In the second game with Osaka serving, Serena got saddled with a coaching violation by chair umpire Carlos Ramos. Coach Patrick Mouratoglou’s hand gesture, signaling for her to move forward caught the umpire’s eye but was not seen by Williams. Perhaps this infraction was the fuel Serena needed. Up to now, Osaka was a wizard at making break points disappear, 16 in her previous two matches, 13 alone in the semifinals against Madison Keyes and two already today. With a backhand return winner, Serena had her fourth break point of the fourth game. As Osaka’s backhand landed long, Serena finally had chiseled a 3-1 edge. But an ace for 30-15, followed by successive double faults and a backhand error was how Serena’s service game unfolded. She responded by smashing a racket. Tagged with a second code violation, Serena did not realize that it meant an automatic loss of point. With an ace at 40-0, Osaka comfortably held for 3-3. Next, with a backhand up the line return winner, the Japanese hopeful was at 30-40, she connected with a forehand up the line pass winner to seal the break for 4-3.

Incensed, Serena could not let go of what she viewed as an injustice. During the changeover, she labeled Ramos a “thief”. He retaliated by giving her a third code violation for verbal abuse. This time, the consequence was a loss of a game, “I called you a thief because you stole a point from me”. In shock and disbelief, Williams resorted to the referee. But, what was done, could not be undone, Osaka was awarded a game for 5-3 without striking a ball. After Serena’s love hold, it was Osaka’s turn to be under pressure. With an ace, the youngster arrived at 40-15. On her second try, with an unreturnable serve, Osaka closed out the match.

There was no outward excessive celebration by Osaka who had defeated her idol on the largest stage in tennis. Her reaction is reflective of her personality according to her coach Sascha Bajin, Serena’s former hitting partner, who began working with her last November “I think everybody. . .on this planet can learn a lot from that girl in order to maintain that innocence. I believe the more open we are and the more honest we are and show vulnerability sometimes and who we truly are, the better this world is going to be. And all the fake emotions, I’m not a fan of it. I believe that, yeah, she’s a star for that.” Serena hugged her at net and told Ramos “you owe me an apology”.

During the trophy ceremony, Serena did her utmost to shift the spotlight onto Osaka where it belonged “I don’t want to be rude, but I don’t want to do questions. I want to tell you guys, she played well, this is her first grand slam. I know you guys were here rooting for me. Let’s make this the best moment we can. . .Let’s give everyone the credit where the credit is due. . . Congratulations Naomi. No more booing.”

Serena realized the gravity of the situation “I felt at one point bad because I’m crying and she’s crying. . . she just won. I’m not sure if they were happy tears or they were just sad tears because of the moment.. .this isn’t how I felt when I won my first Grand Slam. . . I definitely don’t want her to feel like that.”

Certainly, an awkward time for this 20 year old who with serenity and poise had a fairy tale outcome, but not quite the finish she dreamt of “I know everyone was cheering for her. I’m sorry it had to end like this, [with tears streaming down], I just want to say thank you for watching the match. It was always my dream to play Serena in the U.S. Open final. I am glad I was able to do that. I’m grateful I was able to play with you, [turns to Serena and bows], thank you” Osaka displayed mixed emotions “I know she really wanted to have the 24th grand slam. Everyone knows, it’s on the commercials everywhere. When I step on the court, I feel like a different person. I’m not a Serena fan. I’m just a tennis player playing another tennis player. But when we hugged at net, I felt like a kid again. . .When I was growing up, I did a whole report on her in the third grade. [I said] I want to be like her”.

Following her win, she had a touching embrace with her mother “she sacrificed a lot for me. It means a lot for her to come and watch my matches because she normally doesn’t do that. All we are missing is my dad, he doesn’t physically watch my matches, he walks around I will see him later”

Serena is no stranger to controversy at the U.S. Open. In 2004 in the quarterfinals against Jennifer Capriati, at least three blatant ruling errors, including an overrule by the chair umpire on a clear out ball, likely cost her the match. Those flubs ushered in the era of electronic review. In the 2009 semifinals down 4-6, 5-6, a second serve foot fault at 15-30 brought on a harangue which resulted in a second code violation and point penalty to hand Kim Clijsters the match. Serena viewed the coaching violation as unfair “one thing I love about tennis is being out there and it’s the one time I don’t want to hear anyone tell me anything. It’s my moment of peace. You have to figure it out and you have to problem solve.” For Williams, the game penalty was a gender issue “I’ve seen other men call other umpires several things. For me to say thief and for him to take a game, it made me feel like it was sexist remark. He’s never taken a game from a man because they said thief. It blows my mind. But, I’m going to continue to fight for women. . .[Alize] Cornet should be able to take off her shirt without getting a fine, it’s outrageous”.

The tennis world is warming up to this newly minted champion, the youngest U.S. Open titlist since Maria Sharapova at age 19 in 2006. Osaka contributes her success to Bajin in turning her from a top 60 player to a top 10 competitor, her ranking will shoot up from 19 to 7. “Sascha is a really nice person, he’s really positive and upbeat. I think for me that’s really important because I tend to be down on myself a lot”.

Has Serena’s behavior soiled her image in her eyes in any way? Osaka cited “I don’t know what happened on the court. For me, I will always remember the Serena that I love, It doesn’t change anything. . .She was really nice at net and on the podium. So I don’t really see what would change”.

Although born in Japan, Osaka represents the quintessential American story. Born to immigrant parents, father is Haitian, mother from Japan. She grew up in Brooklyn and trains in South Florida. If she continues to emulate her idol’s play on court, with her humble demeanor, the U.S. will want to adopt her as their own considering she holds dual citizenpship.

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Kerber Stymies Serena for Maiden Wimbledon Title

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Kerber Stymies Serena for Maiden Wimbledon Title



Angelique Kerber was at this stage twice before in 2016, meeting Serena Williams in finals. At the Australian Open, she surprised the American to obtain her first major. But Williams turned the tables on the grass to acquire her 7th Venus Rosewater dish. Today, Kerber’s steely defense once again proved impenetrable as she bested Serena 6-3, 6-3 to finally earn the coveted silverware.

This was their 9th meeting with Williams holding a 6-2 winning record. Subsequent to starting the match with 30-0, Serena committed a string of unforced errors to gift Kerber the opening game. The German backed up the break by claiming the second game. After seven unforced errors, the total of what she tallied the entire match in the semifinals facing Kerber’s compatriot, Julia Goerges, Williams settled down. With a break at love, she levelled the score at 2 all. But with consecutive double faults in the seventh game, the American found herself under the gun at 0-40. With Williams’ forehand landing long, Kerber secured a crucial break and by pocketing the next game led 5-3. With Serena’s backhand finding the net at 30-40, Kerber pocketed her third break and the first set.

Coming into the finals, the American had the fewest unforced errors compared to the rest of the field with Kerber second in that category. By the way she littered the lawn today, no one would have deduced that. Moreover, in the opening set, Williams won one point off her second serve. As the match progressed, Kerber continued to sure up her defensive play. What would have been uncontested winners against any other opponent, resulted in errors, whether forced or unforced, on Williams’ stat sheet. A prime example was with Serena serving at 2-3, Kerber sprinted to a casual volley on her part to blast a winner for 15-40. Soon with a running forehand winner up the line, Kerber sealed the next game for 5-2, four points from her maiden Wimbledon title.

By securing the next game at love, Serena kept her hopes for an 8th Wimbledon title alive momentarily. Promptly, with a sensational forehand up the line winner, the German arrived at championship point. Serena’s return miscue ultimately cemented the victory for Kerber. In defeating Williams, Kerber becomes the first German since Steffi Graff, her idol, in 1996 to triumph on the All England Club. Also, She stopped the American, at least for now, who remains knotted with Graff, 23 majors and 7 Wimbledon trophies.

Following a long hiatus due to pregnancy, Williams seeded 25th but ranked 181st, made it to this final after only her fourth tournament after rejoining the tour. Although despondent that she could not leave with the grand prize, her voice cracking a bit, she cited it “was an amazing tournament for me. I was really happy to get this far. It’s obviously disappointing, but, I cannot be disappointed. I have so much to look forward to. I’m literally just getting started.” With so many physiologic changes, it’s remarkable how Serena could get back to this form. She doesn’t believe that she is either “superhuman or supermom”, according to the American “I am just me. For all the moms out there I was playing for you today. I tried. Angelique played really well. . . I look forward to being back out here and doing what I do best. Angelique is an incredible person. She is a really good friend, I am really happy for her. It’s her first title [here], I know she is going to enjoy it”

Runner up in 2016, Kerber was overwhelmed by the occasion confessing “when I was a little kid, I was always dreaming of winning, it’s a dream come true. I knew that I had to play my best tennis against a great champion like Serena. It’s an honor for me to share the court with her”. Indeed, Kerber’s defense was stellar, 11 winners and only 5 errors in 2 sets. She commented that Serena’s comeback is “an inspiration for everybody, it’s amazing watching you. I’m sure you will have your next Grand Slam title”

After a brilliant 2016 including reaching number 1, Kerber’s stock declined finishing 2017 ranked 21. A new coach, a title in Sydney this year, her first since the U.S. Open in 2016, the German is once again on the rise at age 30. On Monday, her ranking will improve from 10 to 4. For her part, Serena Williams gained a lot of ground with her showing, her ranking will catapult to number 28.

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Bacsinszky Upsets Halep at the Miami Open

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Bacsinszky Upsets Halep at the Miami Open


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Karen Pestaina @TennisNewsTPN

The women’s upsets continued at the Miami Open on Tuesday when No. 5 seed Romanian Simona Halep lost to No. 19 seed Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the quarterfinals.
The Swiss player backed up her defeat of the No. 3 seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the fourth round for her second straight win over top five players.

It marked the first time that Bacsinszky had even taken a set off of Halep.
For the Swiss, it’s been five years since she last made an appearance at Key Biscayne and this year, making the semifinals is by far the longest run she’s made in the tournament.

After Halep took a tight first set, Bacsinszky jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the second set to take control. The Swiss notched two breaks early in the third set to go up 3-0 and never had to look back.

After her first service break in the second set, rain halted play for 10 minutes.

Bacsinszky’s effective use of the slice, movement and varied game, put her opponent off guard throughout most of the almost two-and-a-half-hour match.

“Well, in the second set I think I was pushing her to play long rallies,” she said. “I was like probably trying to hide where I was playing; then she was like — she couldn’t be able to guess if it was on the backhand or the forehand.

“Well, even though I felt that she raised her level and her intensity at the end the second set, I stayed — I’m happy that I stayed really strong. I felt that she was like going up, pushing, pushing, but I showed that, Okay, I’m here. I know you’re pushing, but I can keep the level.

“Then it helped me a lot for the third set. I raised then probably my intensity at the beginning of the third set and it made a big gap between us.”

With Halep out, the only top ten seed left in the women’s draw is No. 2 Angelique Kerber.

“The ranking is only a number,” said the Swiss in reference to beating two top five players, “so sometimes you can play very good, better than your ranking, and sometimes less good than your ranking is.

“So for the next match, I mean, obviously for sure it gives me a big confidence to have those two wins, but it doesn’t change that I’m going to have a fierce opponent and it’s going to be tough.

“I just hope I’m going to be able to play well — I mean, not especially well, but be efficient in the next match. Hopefully I win the last point. If not, then it’s okay. I’ll try for the next tournament.”

Bascinszky will next play Russian No. 15 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova for a place in the finals. Kuznetsova is fresh off of her win over No. 1 Serena Williams in the fourth round. In a topsy-turvy match, Kuznetsova defeated Ekaterina Makarova 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-4 to reach the semifinals.

In the first set Kuznetsova lead 5-2, 40-0 and also served for the set at 5-4 but could not close the set when errors crept into her game, especially on her powerful forehand side. Makarova took advantage and won the set in a tiebreak 7-6(3).

Kuznetsova was broken serving for the second set at 5-3, but broke Makarova right back for the third break in the set to even the match at one-set all.

The two-time major winner started off the third set, digging out of a break point to hold then break for a 2-0 lead. Makarova got the break back in the seventh game drawing closer to her countrywoman at 3-4. Kuznetsova battles for the break back and served for the match at 5-3. This time the 15th seed held to close out the match in two-hours and forty-four minutes.

Kuznetsova has a 2-0 record against Bacsinszky. Their last meeting came in 2012 at Indian Wells when the Swiss retired down 6-3, 2-0.

For Kuznetsova, who won the Miami Open in 2006, this will be her first trip to the semifinals since 2009. Should Kuznetsova win the tournament, she would move back into the WTA top ten.

Wednesday’s women’s quarterfinal match-ups will pit 13th seed Victoria Azarenka against 24th seed Johanna Konta and No. 2 seed Angelique Kerber faces No. 22 seed Madison Keys.

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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Murray Falls to Dimitrov at the Miami Open

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Murray Falls to Dimitrov at the Miami Open


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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


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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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