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Serena, Sharapova advance to quarterfinals of Sony Open

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Serena, Sharapova advance to quarterfinals of Sony Open


IMG_7084_SerenaIn a tale of two different matches, expected results as No. 1 Serena Williams and fourth seed Maria Sharapova reached the quarterfinals of the Sony Open on Monday.

Williams dismissed American countrywoman qualifier CoCo Vandeweghe 6-3, 6-1 to reach the elite 8 in Miami for the 13th time in 14 appearances.

After her first two matches in the tournament she showed some rust, Williams cleaned up her game hitting 17 winners to only 11 unforced errors and stopping all six break points she faced.

“I was definitely happier today,” Williams said. “I was really struggling my first two matches, so I just wanted to have a better performance today.”

Next up for Williams will be the No. 5 seed Angelique Kerber, who beat Ekaterina Makarova 6-4, 1-6, 6-3.

“It will be good to play a different opponent,” Williams said. “I feel like I have played the same person three times in a row. It will be nice to play a lefty, someone that just plays different.

“Angelique has been able to beat me in the past, so I have to be really focused and be ready in that match.”

Maris Sharapova had to reset from a first set drubbing to beat Kirsten Flipkens 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.

The Belgium jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first set and Sharapova could only win five points during those four games. In the second set Sharapova jumped out to a 4-0 lead, then Flipkens won 4 out of 5 games, but Sharapova broke serve to take the set 6-4.

“I usually like playing the first match, but I didn’t start off the way I wanted to,” Sharapova said. “Nothing was working.”

Sharapova’s momentum carried over into the final set where she kept her errors low and her aggression high, dropping only one more game.

Final stats for Sharapova- 36 unforced errors, 13 winners and 10 double-faults.

Sharapova will play the woman she lost to in the 2011 Wimbledon finals, No. 8 seed Petra Kvitova in the quarterfinals. Kvitova regrouped to stop Ana Ivanovic 3-6, 6-0, 6-0.

“We haven’t played for a long time, but we have always had interesting, tough matches against each other,” Sharapova said.

Second seed Li Na took apart Carla Suarez-Navarro 6-0, 6-2.

Caroline Wozniacki continued her dominance over US players. For the second match in a row she gives up only 1 game in a 6-0, 6-1 win over Vavara Lepchenko.

In the night session, Dominika Cibulkova held back a fighting Venus Williams 6-1, 5-7, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals. In a rematch of the recent Australian Open semi Cibulkova will play Agniezska Radwanska.

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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Bartoli Joins the Majors Club by Winning Wimbledon

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Bartoli Joins the Majors Club by Winning Wimbledon



Without questions, this denouement to the ladies’ draw was not foreseen as the fortnight commenced. Regardless, Marion Bartoli and Sabine Lisicki found themselves contesting for the big prize at Wimbledon. Bartoli made the most of her second trip to the final at the All-England Club, crushing the German 6-1, 6-4 to lift her inaugural majors’ trophy.

In 2007, Bartoli, the 18th seed, surprised Justine Henin in the semifinals to reach her maiden major final. Bartoli went down to Venus Williams, the 23rd seed and outright favorite.

Lisicki, another 23rd seed, was pegged as the oddsmaker’s choice because of booming serve and powerful forehand despite making her debut in a major final. On this occasion, Bartoli did not intend to stick to the script.

With Maria Sharapova ousted in the second round, Victoria Azarenka forced to forfeit her second round match due to injury and 2011 winner Petra Kvitova bounced in the quarterfinals, Bartoli was the vestige of a bottom half of the draw left in disarray.

Not only did the Frenchwoman win all her matches in two sets, the highest seed she battled was Sloane Stephens at 17. Prior to this tournament, Bartoli’s showings this season were three quarterfinals, all non-majors.

Moreover, Bartoli’s last title was in Osaka in 2011. That same year, Bartoli prevailed on grass in Eastbourne, stunned Serena Williams at Wimbledon in the fourth round only to be bounced in the quarterfinals by the woman she faced today.

The anxiety was palpable as each competitor double faulted on break point her first time serving. However, with her first ace, Bartoli subsequently held for a 2-1 lead.

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Serena Williams Soars Winning her Second French Open Title

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Serena Williams Soars Winning her Second French Open Title


In the battle between the top two players in the Open Era, number two has bested number one, seven out of eleven times. Moreover, in the last twenty years, the world number one has conquered Roland Garros only twice. Consequently, Maria Sharapova could have taken solace from those statistics. However, the defending champion had Serena Williams across the net. Williams prevailed 6-4, 6-4 to capture her second title in Paris and her 16th major overall.

A staggering twelve successive losses, a nine year drought was the ghost that Sharapova was attempting to banish against Williams who made no secret of her hunger to hoist the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen. Since Serena defeated sister Venus in the 2002 final, no American had advanced to the ultimate match in eleven years.

From the first game, Sharapova demonstrated despite a 2-13 record against her rival, she was not willing to gift wrap her title. The Russian overcame love-40 and saved a fourth break point to hold. Sharapova then took advantage of errors from Williams to bank a break for 2-0.

But, Sharapova’s lead was short-lived. Soon, with an overhead winner, Williams got the set back on serve. Later, in the fifth game, with Sharapova flubbing a forehand, Williams sealed the break for a 3-2 edge. Despite being tested, Williams consolidated for 4-2.

With Sharapova capitalizing on miscues by her opponent in the eighth game, the first set was leveled at 4 all. Once again though, Williams turned up the screws, forcing Sharapova to muff a backhand up the line for double break point. Promptly with a forehand crosscourt winner, Williams moved ahead 5-4. The world number one comfortably guarded serve to pocket the opening set.

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Serena Williams Dispatches Morita for a Fourth Round Berth at Sony Open

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Serena Williams Dispatches Morita for a Fourth Round Berth at Sony Open


IMG_1722_Serena
Despite being tested, five time Sony Open champion Serena Williams posted a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Japan’s Ayumi Morita in the third round in Miami.

This was the second career meeting between these ladies. Earlier this year, in Australia, the two clashed in the third round with Williams comfortably prevailing 6-1, 6-3.

Double faults were Williams undoing her initial service game resulting in the donation of a break. Morita went on to consolidate for 3-0. Soon though, the world number one found her game and rolled off six games in a row to capture the opening set.

The second set, Morita ultimately found a bandage to stop the hemorrhage and terminated Williams’ run at seven consecutive games.

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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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Djokovic Battles for Semifinal Slot, Sharapova Seeks Another Final at Sony Ericsson Open

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Djokovic Battles for Semifinal Slot, Sharapova Seeks Another Final at Sony Ericsson Open



The first match on stadium court at the Sony Ericsson Open has world number two Maria Sharapova and former world number one Caroline Wozniacki fighting for a berth in the final.

After reaching her maiden semifinal in Miami, Wozniacki will attempt to advance to her initial final of the season. Subsequent to her enormous victory in the quarterfinals over Serena Williams, the 21 year old will not be deterred by the challenge.

A runner up three times including 2011, Sharapova has been to the final on every occasion that she’s progressed past the fourth round at this event. It’s the initial encounter between these two this year. Sharapova has a slim advantage in their head to head of 3-2.
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Sharapova, Djokovic, Federer and Serena Take Stadium Court at Sony Ericsson Open

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Sharapova, Djokovic, Federer and Serena Take Stadium Court at Sony Ericsson Open



World number two Maria Sharapova opens up the proceedings on stadium court on Monday at the Sony Ericsson Open. Sharapova collides with countrywoman Ekaterina Makarova. Sharapova leads 3-0 in their head to head.

Following that is another fourth round match as Serena Williams clashes with Samantha Stosur. This will be their first encounter since Stosur surprised Williams in the final at the U.S. Open.

Defending champion Novak Djokovic looks to continue his campaign for a third Sony Ericsson title. With a 10-1 record, the world number one is the overwhelming favorite as he faces compatriot Viktor Troicki.

The evening session begins with Roger Federer duking it out with Andy Roddick for a spot in the fourth round. Federer is 21-2 versus his opponent. Venus Williams and Ana Ivanovic close out the night as they tussle for a berth in the quarterfinals.

Also in action are Victoria Azarenka, Juan Martin Del Potro, Mardy Fish and Caroline Wozniacki.

Here is today’s complete order of play :

Monday, March 26, 2012

STADIUM Start 11:00 am

Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) v [2] Maria Sharapova (RUS) WTA

Not Before 1:00 PM
[6] Samantha Stosur (AUS) v [10] Serena Williams (USA) WTA
[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) v [27] Viktor Troicki (SRB) ATP
[11] Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG) v [23] Marin Cilic (CRO) ATP

Starting at 7:30 PM
[3] Roger Federer (SUI) v [31] Andy Roddick (USA) ATP

Not Before 9:00 PM
[WC] Venus Williams (USA) v [15] Ana Ivanovic (SRB) WTA

GRANDSTAND Start 11:00 am

[28] Kevin Anderson (RSA) v [8] Mardy Fish (USA) ATP
[12] Nicolas Almagro (ESP) v [20] Fernando Verdasco (ESP) ATP
[8] Na Li (CHN) v [12] Sabine Lisicki (GER) WTA

Not Before 4:30 PM
[1] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) v [16] Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) WTA
[21] Juan Monaco (ARG) v [14] Gael Monfils (FRA) ATP

COURT 1 Start 11:00 am

[17] Richard Gasquet (FRA) v Albert Ramos (ESP) ATP

Not Before 1:00 PM
[6] Mahesh Bhupathi (IND)/Rohan Bopanna (IND) v
Marcel Granollers (ESP)/Rafael Nadal (ESP) ATP
[30] Julien Benneteau (FRA) v [5] David Ferrer (ESP) ATP

Not Before 4:30 PM
[23] Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) v [4] Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) WTA
Colin Fleming (GBR)/Ross Hutchins (GBR) v
[7] Leander Paes (IND)/Radek Stepanek (CZE) ATP

COURT 2 Start 11:00 am

Vania King (USA)/Monica Niculescu (ROU) v
[7] Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ)/Galina Voskoboeva (KAZ) WTA

Not Before 12:00 PM
[22] Maria Kirilenko (RUS) v [7] Marion Bartoli (FRA) WTA
[WC] Garbine Muguruza Blanco (ESP) v [5] Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) WTA
Vera Dushevina (RUS)/Shahar Peer (ISR) v
[WC] Gisela Dulko (ARG)/Paola Suarez (ARG) WTA

COURT 3 Start 12:00 noon

[WC] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS)/Lucie Safarova (CZE)
vNuria Llagostera Vives (ESP)/Arantxa Parra Santonja (ESP) WTA
Lukasz Kubot (POL)/Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) v
Santiago Gonzalez (MEX)/Scott Lipsky (USA) ATP
Julia Goerges (GER)/Samantha Stosur (AUS) v
Anabel Medina Garrigues (ESP)/Flavia Pennetta (ITA) WTA

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Venus Williams Weathers Wozniak to Reach Fourth Round

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Venus Williams Weathers Wozniak to Reach Fourth Round



Despite not playing up to the level which saw her defeat world number three Petra Kvitova in the previous round, Venus Williams battled past Aleksandra Wozniak 4-6,6-4,7-6 to move on to the fourth round at the Sony Ericsson Open.

Coming into the third round, these two had a great deal in common as wildcard entries. Wozniak is on the rebuilding path from a wrist and shoulder injury the last two years while Williams missed most of 2011 due to Sjogren’s disease.

Wozniak broke to open the match. Leading 2-1, the Canadian salvaged six break points to keep the lead. Although Williams did break later for 3 all, she again surrendered her serve which allowed Wozniak to eventually grab the first set.

After being down a break again early in the second set, Williams leveled things at 2 all. A sleuth of breaks followed with Williams ultimately getting the last one to send the match into a third set.

Subsequent to consolidating for 4-2, Wozniak had a 15-40 advantage. If the Canadian had converted, she would have had a double break edge. Williams kept close and the next game squared the set at 4 all.

However, Williams went down again 4-5 but with help from her rival saved match point. Fighting through an error prone game and match, Williams arrived at 6-5. In the end, the winner was settled by a tiebreaker and in spite of her struggles, Williams pulled through with a victory after two hours and fifty minutes.

It was the first meeting for these two competitors and a great disappointment for Wozniak who is working her way back up the ranking after plummeting from 35 to 126 at the end of 2011. For the second time this year, she failed to close out a well known opponent, before Agnieszka Radwanska in Dubai.

Serving for the match, Wozniak was candid in saying that “nerves played a part” and “not having the right strategy at the right time”. After the match, Wozniak took comfort in her father citing that the important thing is that she’s “healthy and on the right track”.
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