Saturday, July 31, 2010

Sharapova Denies Dementieva a SF.

Samantha Stosur will have her chance at revenge on Saturday, after beating Yanina Wickmayer to reach the semis of Stanford, where she will face one of her toughest opponents, Victoria Azarenka.

Stosur, the No.1 seed at the Premier-level tournament, fought for almost two hours to beat No.7 seed Wickmayer on Friday afternoon, 7-5 3-6 6-3. Stosur was serving 0-2, 15-40 in the third set before bouncing back into form, winning six of the last seven games to close out the one-hour, 52-minute match.

"I felt a little bit flat in that second set. I wasn't quite tough enough," Stosur said. "I knew I had to pick it up in the third, and I did that. I started to get the ball to her forehand a little bit more, hit it up the middle a bit, not give her the angles."

Stosur recorded her Sony Ericsson WTA Tour-leading 37th match win of 2010.

Next up for Stosur will be No.8 seed Azarenka, who ran her career record to 4-0 against No.4 seed Marion Bartoli with a 3-6 6-3 6-3 win. Bartoli, the defending champion, led 6-3 3-1 before Azarenka caught fire and rolled to victory.

"I was in a position to win the match, but she played really well and was able to come up with the win," said Bartoli, who won her fifth and biggest career title here a year ago. "In the third set I tried to fight as hard as I could, but she was too good. But it was the closest I've ever played her, so that's good."

Azarenka leads Stosur in their head-to-head, 3-0. The young Belarusian has never dropped a set to Stosur, although Stosur wasn't the player she is now - she is No.5 now (she was out of the Top 30 in their three previous meetings).

"Sam has been in great form the whole year. She has a huge serve," said Azarenka, who turns 21 on Saturday. "I will fight hard and play my game."

"There have been times we played close matches, other times she has killed me," Stosur said. "The last time we played was Miami last year though, and a lot of things have changed since then. Hopefully I can turn things around."

Earlier, No.3 seed Agnieszka Radwanska picked her moment and pounced all over good friend Maria Kirilenko, winning nine straight games from 4-5 in the first set to beat the Russian, 7-5 6-0. The two had been tied head-to-head, 2-2.

"I think she was a little bit upset about losing the first set," Radwanska said. "It wasn't easy to finish her off though. When I was up 3-0 in the second set I knew I was winning, but she's a fighter and I really had to focus to close it out."

Next up for Radwanska is No.5 seed Maria Sharapova, who beat No.2 seed Elena Dementieva in a two-hour, 47-minute night time marathon, 6-4 2-6 6-3. Sharapova had an 8-3 head-to-head edge against Dementieva going in but had lost their most recent meeting, on this same surface in Toronto last year. Despite 15 double faults she managed to improve to 9-3 against her fellow Russian, breaking away from 3-all in the third set with three straight games.

"I feel like I played much better than in my first round," Dementieva said. "My serve was not good enough today. She played very well. This is what I was hoping for - some tough matches here to feel the competition again."

Sharapova leads Radwanska head-to-head, 4-1, winning their last three.

Groth needs one more win for first Final

Elena Vesnina was on a seven match losing streak before this week, her last victory having come in April. In fact, she fell outside the Top 50 earlier this month for the first time in more than a year. But she has shaken off her slump at the Istanbul Cup, where she has yet to drop a set in three matches this week.

Vesnina, currently ranked 60th, defeated Anastasia Rodionova, 7-5 6-1, on Friday to raise her career record to 4-0 against the Australian.

"It was a tough match and I thought in the first set, Anastasia and I played great quality tennis, we had great rallies and fought for every point," said Vesnina, who has never lost a set to Rodionova. "I was a little bit lucky at the end of the first set and in the second I was just able to focus on every single point and played well to get the win."

Vesnina's semifinal opponent on Saturday will be Andrea Petkovic, who handled Elena Baltacha, 6-4 6-0. The German is having her best year on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, highlighted by a semifinal showing in Brisbane and a run to the final in 's-Hertogenbosch. In the most recent encounter between the two semifinalists, Petkovic prevailed in three sets in the first round of this year's French Open.

"Today was the first match where I played really well," said the sixth-seeded Petkovic. "In the first two matches I was struggling a little bit so I just want to take it match by match. Tomorrow I play a very good player, Elena Vesnina, and I had a great battle against her at the French Open. It's going to be tough, so I will take it point by point and then see. If I start thinking about the title now, I will lose, that's for sure."

On the bottom half of the draw, Jarmila Groth and No.3 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, neither of whom have lost a set this week either, will do battle for a spot in the final.

Groth made sure Vera Dushevina will not get a chance to defend her title here, beating the Russian, 7-5 6-2. By recording her first win in three career meetings with Dushevina, Groth has matched her career-best Tour result, a semifinal showing at Tokyo (Japan Open) in 2008.

"Every match is different and all I can try to do is my best, fight for every point, and play as well as I can," Groth said of her semifinal against Pavlyuchenkova. "If I win it's great, if I lose there is always another week and something to learn. Pavlyuchenkova is a good tennis player, she's very young. She has to be playing well to make it this far, so I will try to prepare as well as I can."

The 19-year-old Pavlyuchenkova topped Sorana Cirstea, 6-4 6-2, and in making the semis, has posted her best result since capturing her first Tour singles title at Monterrey in March. The Russian, who has yet to lose more than four games in a set all week, reached her career-high ranking of No.25 right after Monterrey and is now just a few spots below that at No.29.

Bartoli Beats Ana for QF

Maria Sharapova had very few problems at the Bank of the West Classic on Thursday, racing past Olga Govortsova, 6-3 6-3.

Sharapova, the No.5 seed, was playing Govortsova for the first time and despite double faulting in the first point of the match and subsequently losing her serve, she got her mojo back right away, needing just an hour and 19 minutes to make it past the Belarusian in straight sets and into the quarterfinals.

Sharapova is playing this tournament for just the second time, having also made it to the quarterfinals last year, where she fell to Venus Williams.

Next up for Sharapova will be this week's No.2 seed, Elena Dementieva. Sharapova leads Dementieva in their head-to-head, 8-3, but did lose their most recent meeting, on hardcourts a year ago in the final of Toronto.

Earlier, Victoria Azarenka and Maria Kirilenko snapped up quarterfinal berths. Kirilenko rallied from a break down in both sets to upset No.6 seed Shahar Peer, 6-4 6-3, while Azarenka, the No.8 seed, won nine of 10 games from 3-all in the first set to beat feisty American Melanie Oudin, 6-3 6-1.

"I played very well today," Azarenka said. "It was tough at the beginning. Overall I played a good match though, and I'm happy to win today. I was taking it point by point, no matter what the score was. That was one of the keys to winning."

"I feel like I had game point in almost every game," Oudin said. "Off the ground I was in every single point. I thought I played a very good match. She played the big points better than me though. She put a lot of pressure on me in the tight situations. That's what won the match for her. She's a really, really good player."

In the feature night match, No.4 seed and defending champion Marion Bartoli beat Ana Ivanovic, a wildcard into the draw, in straight sets, 6-3 6-4. Bartoli has now won seven matches in a row at this tournament, having won her fifth and biggest career Sony Ericsson WTA Tour title here a year ago.

"I knew I had to serve very well against Ana and I did it," Bartoli said. "The main goal tonight was to hit the ball hard. When I was retrieving and on the back foot, she was coming up with some great shots. You have to push her back."

Bartoli may be hard pressed to get to eight in a row, as her next opponent is Azarenka. Azarenka has won all three previous meetings handily.

Lindsay Davenport continued to win in her comeback to the doubles circuit, partnering Liezel Huber to beat No.4 seeds Olga Govortsova and Alla Kudryavtseva, 6-4 6-2. Davenport was the only player not to lose her serve the entire match, losing a total of just nine points in her five service games.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Stosur Starts Strong

World No.5 Samantha Stosur made a strong start to her Bank of the West Classic campaign on Wednesday, surviving some tense moments at the very end but making it by Christina McHale, 6-1 7-5.

Stosur, the No.1 seed at the first stop in the US Open Series, stormed through the first set in 23 minutes but the second set was a far more challenging 58 minutes, as American qualifier McHale held serve through 5-all, getting broken there to give Stosur a chance to serve for the match at 6-5. The Australian fell behind 0-40 and eventually fended off four break points to close it out.

Stosur is now through to the quarterfinals in Stanford for the fourth straight try, her best result being the semis last year, where she fell to Marion Bartoli.

In the first match of the day, No.3 seed Agnieszka Radwanska continued her quiet assault through the draw, winning a topsy turvy first set then cruising to victory over qualifier Olga Savchuk, 7-6(4) 6-2. Radwanska let go of 3-1 and 5-3 leads then had to rally from 2-4 in the breaker to take the first set.

"In the beginning I wasn't playing very well, but once I got to the second set I started playing much better," Radwanska said. "Playing the qualifying can help someone get used to the courts more, but it can go the other way too, because they'll be more tired from playing more matches. I'm happy to win today."

In Other matches US Open semi finalist Yanina Wickmayer defeated Dominika Cibulkova 6-1 6-4 and Elena Dementieva faught of Kimiko Date Krumm 3-6 6-3 6-4.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Marion starts strong title defence.

Marion Bartoli won her fifth and biggest career title here a year ago and got off to a winning start at the Premier stop again, beating Ashley Harkleroad in straight sets on a sunny Monday afternoon.

Bartoli, who beat Venus Williams in the final last year and is the No.4 seed this year, came out on fire against Harkleroad, taking the first set in 27 minutes; she went down a break early in the second set but won anyway, 6-1 6-4.

Ater her opening round win Bartoli stated "I'm really happy about my season so far and I'm hoping to continue like that, I'm desperate to be back in the final of a Grand Slam. That's my main goal. My second goal is to have a one digit ranking, but that will come with my results."

Other seeds advancing in the day session were No.6 seed Shahar Peer, who rebounded after a first set blowout to beat Daniela Hantuchova, 0-6 6-4 6-3; No.7 seed Yanina Wickmayer, who beat Chan Yung-Jan, 6-3 6-1; and No.8 seed Victoria Azarenka, who blew past Ayumi Morita in 53 minutes, 60- 6-2.

In the feature night match, Maria Sharapova got some revenge for a loss to Zheng Jie earlier in the year, beating the Chinese in a tight two-setter, 6-4 7-5. Sharapova, who had lost the pair's last meeting at Indian Wells, squandered a match point serving for the match at 6-4 5-4, but closed it out shortly afterwards.

"Our match at Indian Wells was a really scratchy match. I wasn't playing very well there," Sharapova said. "Today I served really well but returned quite poorly. I returned well when I had to, but I'll work on that going forward. Improving with every match is really the goal, and working myself towards the Open."

In the last match of the night, American No.3 Melanie Oudin took on Canadian No.1 Aleksandra Wozniak, a champion here in 2008. Wozniak saved three set points to win the first set and held a 5-1 lead with match point in the second set but Oudin mounted a dramatic comeback, eventually prevailing, 6-7(6) 7-5 6-3.

Maria Kirilenko and qualifiers Olga Savchuk and Christina McHale also won.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Anna Advance, Dinara Loses

The Bank of the West Classic began its amazing 40th edition on Monday and the most dramatic match came at the very end of the night, as Kimiko Date Krumm - who turns 40 years young in a few months - rallied back to beat former No.1 Dinara Safina in three sets, 4-6 7-6(0) 6-2.

Date Krumm, who defeated Safina in the first round of the French Open in May to become the oldest player ever to beat a Top 10 player, lost five games in a row to fall behind 6-4 2-0, seemingly headed for a straight set departure. But the Japanese veteran didn't let go, hanging tough with Safina from the baseline and pouncing with a love tie-break, then easing through the decider in 35 minutes.

"I had a short break after Wimbledon and this was my first time playing on hardcourt since Miami, so we weren't sure what would happen," Date Krumm said. "I played against Safina at Roland Garros but that was a different situation. I tried to forget about that and stay focused. I watched a DVD with my coach last night so I had a good idea of how I needed to play."

"In the important moments she played well," said Safina, who was playing her first tournament since the week before Wimbledon. "It was my first match back from injury, so I'm pretty positive and will keep working hard to improve day by day. My back feels fine, and that is the most important thing."

Another former No.1 trying to get back to her former form, Ana Ivanovic, had a better time, beating Alisa Kleybanova handily, 6-3 6-2. Ivanovic had lost to Kleybanova in three of their four previous meetings, including their last two.

"I'm really happy to see the things I've been working on in the past month show on the court," Ivanovic said. "I was getting to every ball and managed to keep the rallies going so I didn't have to pull the trigger too early. Alisa is a tough opponent and this is probably her best surface, so I'm very happy to win."

Monday, July 26, 2010

Chakvetadze and Georges prove easy winners

It had been a while since Anna Chakvetadze conjured up the magic that took her to No.5 in the world a few years ago, but there were flashes of that magic in Portoroz this week, as the Russian won her first title in almost two and a half years at the Banka Koper Slovenia Open.

Little by little, and despite being unseeded, the Chakvetadze momentum kept growing. She won her first two matches in straight sets, including a 6-1 6-2 thrashing of No.4 seed Sara Errani in the second round. Errani had been to the final here the last two years, winning in 2008 and finishing runner-up in 2009.

The quarters and semis were a struggle for Chakvetadze, but she really rose to the occasion, saving two match points to beat No.6 seed Vera Dushevina in the quarterfinals, 2-6 6-3 7-5, then rebounding after a first set blowout to defeat No.7 seed Polona Hercog, 0-6 6-2 6-2 - in front of her Slovenian home crowd.

"The quarterfinal and semifinal matches were the toughest of the week for me," Chakvetadze said. "Against Dushevina I didn't play well but still won - it's good when you don't play your best and win, because after that you play better."

Chakvetadze, who won her eighth career title, and first since Paris in February 2008, cruised past first-time finalist Johanna Larsson in 61 minutes, 6-1 6-2.

"This was my ninth final and Johanna's first, so I don't think she was as comfortable as me today," Chakvetadze said. "I was very concentrated and didn't give her many free points, so I'm very happy with my performance."

She had to double up on finals day but it didn't stop her from her first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour title. Julia Goerges took Bad Gastein by storm on Sunday, beating Alizé Cornet in a rain delayed semifinal then defeating Timea Bacsinszky later in the day in the final.

Goerges, who had never played Cornet or Bacsinszky before, was strong on serve in both matches, maintaining a first serve percentage of over 60% and winning over 70% of those points throughout the day - and that helped her record 61 64 victories over both the Frenchwoman and the Swiss.

Before this week, Goerges' best results on the Tour were four semifinal finishes. Not only did she break that personal best with her win over Cornet, who had taken out No.1 seed Andrea Petkovic earlier in the week, but she carried that momentum into the title match against No.2 seed Bacsinszky.

"In the morning I told myself just try to get to the final. It was my fifth chance and I did it," Goerges said. "I was so happy to be in my first final that I was really relaxed against Timea, and the crowd was so supportive too. I got tight on one match point but closed it out well. I'm so happy to have my first title.

Goerges had modest plans for her prize money check:

"I'm going to buy a MacBook to celebrate. My laptop isn't working well anymore
so I'll give that to my coach and get a new one!"

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Anna and Johanna to meet in final

Anna Chakvetadze continued her comeback from defeat theme in her semi final in Slovenia. Anna overcame the odds to make the final, rallying from a 6-0 first set to beat Polona Hercog in front of her home crowd, 0-6 6-2 6-2.

Chakvetadze, who saved two match points to beat No.6 seed Vera Dushevina in the quarterfinals, lost the first seven games of her match against No.7 seed Hercog on Saturday before making her move, eventually grinding past the aggressive Slovenian in an hour and 48 minutes in their first career meeting.

Chakvetadze will be playing her first final since New Haven in August 2008, where she was runner-up to Caroline Wozniacki.

"I'm very excited. It has been almost two years with no final, now finally here," Chakvetadze said. "In the beginning I didn't know what to do. I didn't know her game too well. She was hitting the lines and making almost no mistakes, but in the second set I changed my tactics a bit and it worked."

Awaiting Chakvetadze in the final will be Johanna Larsson, who reached her first career Sony Ericsson WTA Tour final when another Russian, Ksenia Pervak, retired with a right wrist injury from the second semifinal while trailing, 6-2 1-0.

Larsson commented "This place is like a fairytale. It's so pretty in Portoroz, I'm always happy to win, but I feel sorry for Ksenia. It's a part of the game though, and I was feeling good out there. It's my first final - I'm going to go out there and enjoy the match. Tomorrow is a new day and we'll see what it brings."

This will be the first time the two play each other.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Getting To Know... Anastasia Pivovarova - Thanks to WTA Tour

Earmarked as a future champion at an early age, Anastasia Pivovarova certainly lived up to expectations in the juniors by working her way to No.2 in the world. But while she has won five ITF Circuit singles titles since then, a string of injuries have hampered the tall Muscovite's transition to the senior ranks. Now, however, there are signs the 20-year-old's fortunes are changing. As a qualifier at Roland Garros she beat Zheng Jie on her way to the third round, and this week she is through to her first-ever Sony Ericsson WTA Tour quarterfinal at the Nürnberger Gastein Ladies.

How did you get started in tennis?
AP: I was six years old. My parents took me to one of the best tennis schools in Russia, it's called Luzhniki. There was a test for the new group of beginners and I passed all the tests. After one year the coaches said to my parents that I was doing really well and had the potential to be pro. They asked my parents if they wanted me to move into the group of young kids that wanted to be professional. And so I did.

Did you have a tennis idol when you were a kid?
AP: When I was starting to play tennis it was Anna Kournikova and Marat Safin. Well, first of all they're both good looking and it was always a joy to watch them play. Also, they're both very talented and good fighters. I know Marat and he has a great personality.

How do you describe your playing style?
AP: I like to combine different strokes and change the rhythm and the height of the ball and play 'smart' tennis. I like to run a lot so I have a lot of patience to fight for every point. I really like to play of clay, but I also like hardcourts as well.

If you could steal a shot from another player, what would it be?
AP: I would say the backhand slice of Justine Henin.

Have you always trained in Russia?
AP: I practised in Russia at three different clubs, but when I was 12 I started to go to the States, to Florida, to practise during the winter season. First I was at the Evert Academy and then Bollettieri's. Then for the clay court seasons I'd go back to Europe and practise in Russia. Right now I'm based in Barcelona, at the Sánchez-Casal Academy - I started there earlier this year, one month before Roland Garros. I have two coaches, Stefan Ortega is working with me but he cannot travel, and Tony Baldellou is traveling with me and working with me full time. Dani Romero is my fitness coach.

You've been out of juniors for a couple of years now; how has the transition to the Tour been?
AP: After I finished in juniors, three years in a row I had really big injuries... it was non-stop. First I had a broken abdominal muscle, and I didn't play for three months. Then I had my back problems for five months, then I broke my wrist and that was another three months. I was always in the Top 200 but playing maybe five tournaments a year without injuries, so it was really tough for me to stay there.

What is the main difference between the juniors and the Tour?
AP: The difference between the juniors and the pro circuit is that you don't get anything for free… in the juniors they just give some matches away and maybe at some tournaments it's easy to get to the semis almost not doing anything. On the women's Tour, even from the first round of qualies you have to fight a lot to win each point.

Who has been your toughest opponent to date?
AP: It's hard to say because every match is difficult. I was really happy to play against such a big player as Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon, because I lost in qualies but I got a chance to play in the main draw as a lucky loser. But you could see from the match it was her favorite surface… I didn't have a lot of time, she was playing so fast and powerful. She beat me 61 60, but it was a good experience for me to compare myself to her level, on a grass court.

What are your goals in tennis?
AP: For this year my goal is to make the Top 100 in time for the Australian Open, so I don't have to play qualies any more. I played Samantha Stosur in the third round at Roland Garros and I think if you haven't played qualies you're not as tired and you can show a better game, you know? Long term I'd like to get to the Top 10.

Do you have a favorite city or Tour stop?
AP: I really like Barcelona. The center is beautiful and you also have the mountains and the beach and I like both. I also like to go back to Moscow. I'm not often there but I love the city very much.

How far did you go in your studies?
AP: I finished high school, the last few years by correspondence - through the internet and I also had private lessons with teachers. Right now I'm studying economics at a university in Russia, also by correspondence.

There's a cute story about your maths teacher…
AP: Yes, my maths teacher started to cry when I told her I was going to go pro in tennis. I was really good with numbers when I was at school. I think I have good genes from my grandfather!

Have you thought about what you'd do with your life if you weren't playing tennis?
AP: I don't think I'd have had just one job, because I can't imagine sitting in an office doing the same thing every day. I'd get really bored. So maybe a couple of different jobs! If I'd studied economics, then maybe something to do with business or banking. Maybe some management.

How do you like to spend your free time?
AP: I like to do spa things that girls like. If I had a day off I would just spend it in the spa. I like reading, I like music, I like going to the cinema and shopping. And right now I'm learning how to cook. With all the traveling we do, we get to experience all kinds of food. I like Italian, and also Russian. But if I'm in, say, China and I really like a meal I have, I'll probably ask for the recipe or find it on the internet and try to do it myself.

Do you have a favorite book?
AP: My favorite book is Lance Armstrong's It's Not About the Bike. I read it at that moment that I had injuries and it just gave me the push to fight till the end, because it's really tough mentally to get through that.

What's your most treasured possession?
AP: The family counts? I would say my family. I love them a lot and really miss them. They are all in Moscow, but if I have a chance to go and see them even for a few days, I go and try and see everybody - both my family and friends. They have the biggest value for me.

Tell us about your family.
AP: My dad is the director of a building company in Moscow, and also does some work in mining. My mum helps me by always traveling with me. I have two stepbrothers. One is 25 years old and one just turned 10.

How do you think your best friend might describe you?
AP: That I have a big heart. If it's my best friend or my family, I'll give everything to them no matter how much it costs or however they need my help. Also I'm a funny person and have a good sense of humor.

What qualities do you appreciate in others?
AP: Honesty, first of all. Good sense of humor. And being strong in the tough moments.

If you could meet anyone in the world, who would it be?
AP: If you'd asked me a few years ago, I'd have said Sharapova! I'm so happy that I got a chance to meet her and get to know her a little bit. Right now I'd say Roger Federer, because I'm a big fan - he's my idol.

If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have one luxury with you, what would you choose?
AP: I would say music. I listen to everything: house, R&B, pop - it really depends on my mood. Without music I don't know how you can live.

Is Chakvetadze finding her form?

Sara Errani had been one of the best players at the Banka Koper Slovenia Open over the last few years, winning 10 of her last 11 matches at the event; but what happened Wednesday night was a far cry from that, as the No.4-seeded Italian crashed hard to Anna Chakvetadze.

Errani had won in 2008 and came close to beating the world number 1 Dinara Safina losing 7-5 in the final set but against Chakvetadze in the second round this year she was totally outclassed, losing 6-1 6-2 in only 58 minutes.

Chakvetadze told reports after the match "I was expecting more from her side, but I don't think she played her best at all, I just took my chances and I'm happy to be in the quarterfinals playing in my first year here."

Chakvetadze was ranked as high as No.5 a few years ago but in the spring fell out of the Top 100 after a disappointing last 12 months; she is showing improved form as of late, and now is in her second quarterfinal of the season.

"I want to get back to the top, but it's tough to say," Chakvetadze added. "I haven't played the Top 10 players a lot recently. I played Serena a few weeks ago and lost pretty easily. I have to play more to get the feel again." (She lost her 2nd round Wimbledon match to Serena 6-0 6-1)

In the her semi-final were she picked off. No.6 seed Vera Dushevina. Dushevina had a 5-3 third set lead and two match points at 5-4, but Anna Chakvetadze kicked it into high gear once she saved that second match point, winning the last 11 points of the match to make it past her countrywoman, 2-6 6-3 7-5.

"After I won the game to get to 5-all, things went pretty quickly. I was just stronger at the end," Chakvetadze said. "The first set was pretty horrible. I really need to work on my strokes. I'll have to play at another level to win tomorrow."

So is Chakvetadze back? Or is this her lucky week?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Top Teenager into QF's

The highest-ranked teenager in the world raced into the quarterfinals of the Banka Koper Slovenia Open on Thursday, as Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova crushed Rossana de los Ríos, 6-3 6-0.

Pavlyuchenkova, the No.3 seed, broke away from 4-3 in the first set with eight straight games, cruising to victory over the Paraguayan in 67 minutes.

"I'm happy with my performances so far here," said Pavlyuchenkova, who has won 25 of the last 30 games she has played, having rallied from 0-4 in the first set to beat Alberta Brianti in the first round, 7-5 6-1. "I came here to do my best and play well, so we'll see how things go the rest of the tournament."

Awaiting Pavlyuchenkova in the quarters is Johanna Larsson, who was down 5-3 first set but won 10 of the next 11 games to beat Maria Elena Camerin, 7-5 6-1.

"I struggled in the beginning, but I just kept going," Larsson said. "I didn't want to come off court feeling I didn't give it my 100%. I had to do something."

Larsson reached her first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour quarterfinal at Prague last week and has now equaled that feat one week later.

Other winners were Ksenia Pervak and Anastasiya Yakimova. Pervak beat qualifier Alexandra Panova in the first match of the day, rallying from 1-4 in the second set to win, 6-2 7-5; while Yakimova, also a qualifier, advanced past No.1 seed Jelena Jankovic - who injured her left ankle - with a 1-6 6-3 1-0 score.

Serena and Venus top Harris popularity poll

Serena and Venus Williams are two of the most powerful athletes in women's sports history, and the dynamic sisters are also everyone's favorite. For the second year in a row, Serena and Venus are No.1 and No.2 on the Favorite Female Sports Star list, according to the Harris Poll.

With a collective 80 career titles, including 32 Grand Slam titles - 11 as a doubles team - and three Olympic gold medals, the Williams sisters have transcended into the most ubiquitous, winning faces in women's tennis. From teen sensations, they have become favorites on the court and off with their competitive spirit and warm hearts. Both have achieved the world No.1 ranking, and they are the only two women to surpass $25 million in career prize money.

They have captured fans' attention with their dazzling athleticism but also with their balanced lifestyles. Both have become authors and minority owners of the Miami Dolphins football team. Each started their own clothing line with Serena's brand Aneres and Venus' EleVen. Venus started an interior design company, and Serena is about to become a certified nail technician while building schools in Africa. These sisters are very busy, yet both invite fans into their personal lives via Twitter, and they wouldn't have it any other way.

By demographic men and women's favorite player was Serena Williams. African Americans chose Serena as well, while Hispanics chose Venus. Whites chose race car sensation Danica Patrick, who finished third in the polls.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Serena Williams in doubt for US Open

World number 1 Serena Williams is in doubt for her highly anticipated return to the US Open.

Williams underwent foot sergury recently and has pulled out of all of her US Open series lead up tournaments. The world number 1 last year was the talk of the open after her triade at a lines womn who called her for foot fault. Williams was deafaulted and dock a point (which happend to be on match point down) Williams was luck to escape suspension and be able to play at the US Open this year, but she may as well have been suspended if she needs to pull out.

Williams is undoubtly the favourite to take out the title and with Justine Henin already out with injury Serena could be on the withdrawral list aswell.

I hope Serena will be fit to take out her 14th Grand Slam title.

In adidtional Williams family news, eldest sister and seven time grand slam champion Venus Williams has announced she will play in Brisbane and Sydney next year in lead up to the 2011 Australian Open

Monday, July 19, 2010

Kaia Kanepi and Agnes Szavay win in Palermo and Prage

Wimbledon quarter finalist and world number 36 won the WTA tournament in Palermo just this week. As the 5th seed she upset world number 12, top seed, home favourite and defending champion Flavia Pannetta 6-4 6-3. The result was a shock as Pannetta had showen great form all week losing less than 6 games in ever match untill the final, including a 6-0 6-4 semi final victory. Although Kanepi also didnt loose a set was pushed further than the top seed during the week. It was Kanepi's first victory over Pannetta on clay and thier head to head is now leval at 3-3.

In Prague 7th seed Agnes Szavay beat 8th seed Barbora Zachlavova-Strycova 6-2 1-6 6-2 winning her 10th consecutive win after defending her title Budapest last week. Good news for Zachlavova-Srtycova she will enter the top 50 for the first time in her carer ranking 39th.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Serena Williams and Kim Clijsters win at the EPSY's

World No.1 Serena Williams took out the EPSY award for Best Female Tennis Player, taking the award for fellow nomanies Venus Williams and Kim CLijsters. Serena was also honourd with a nomination for Best Female Athlete alongside Lindsay Vonn, Maya Moore, Diana Taurasi for there performances in skiing, NCAA Basketball and WNBA respectivly with Lindsay Vonn taking out the award.

Kim Clijsters won the EPSY for Best Comeback Athlete for her insperational US Open last year, Where she took the title deafeating Venus and Serena en route (4th and semi-final respectevly). The 2005 champion was an unranked wild card and after winnng the US Open debut on the ranking at 19th equaling the highest ever debut ranking.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Top Two seeds withdraw from Parague Open

Top seedes Lucie Safarova and Alexandra Dulgheru have both pulled out of the Prague Open before there second round matches.

In the first round matches Safarova defeated Latvia's Anastajia Sevastova 6-4, 7-5 and Dulgheru took out Italy's Tathiana Garbin 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.

The withdrawls of the top seeds will be a massive blow to the tournament, and local hopes as Lucie Safarova is the top ranked Chzech player.

The Chzech Republic still has three playrs left in the draw, eight seed Barbora Zachalova-Strycova, Lucie Hardecka and Iveta Benesova

Lindsay Davernport is Back!

Former worlds-number-one will make her return to WTA Singles playing her match scie 2008 at this years Bank of The West CLassic. It was rumord at Wimbledon that Davernport would be comming back to the singles tour, but know one was exactly sure when!

Davernport is now a mother of two after giving birth to a baby girl on June 30th 2009. And previously having a baby boy in 2007.

Davernport will be competing as a wild card after missing all of the 2009 season and most of the 2010 season. Davernprt denied retirement rumors bac in 2008 but still hadent played scince. Perhaps it was 39-year-old Kimmiko Date Krumm who inspired 34-year-old Davernport to try again! no doubt Lindsay could be a great threat on the tour esepecily comming back with her home croud behind her!

Intresting Random fact - Lindsay Davernport is the talles woman to ever win a grand slam standing at 1.89m (6ft 2.5 in)

Serena's Selfish or Strategic Schedual?

Worlds-number-one player Serena Williams has this year decided to skip The Bank of The West Classic, where she would be defending a quarter final finish (120 points) instead deciding to participate in the Istanbul Cup, an internatinoal tournament.

My question to you is that do you think this is a Smart or Selfish play by the 13 time grand slam champion? In the Istanbul tournament Williams will be probably the only grand slam finalist in the field let alone champion. She could be the only player in the top 20 in th draw! In the Bank of The West Classic. There is excpected to be atleast 1o grand slam champions, 5 former world number ones and 5 of the 8 seeds all have beaten Williams at some time.

Serena's decision could be seen a selfish ploy to snatch yet another tournament trophy and a misely 280 points. It could be seen as a smart way to bulid confidence and win some matches coming into the US Open, especily considering in the Bank of The West Classic she could face, Ana Ivanovic, Victoria Azeranka, Dinara Safina or even (fingers crossed) Lindsay Davernport and the four Wild Cards at the Stanford tournament, all four also have wins over Serena Williams!

So what do you think Selfish Play to avoid a tough draw and possibly an early loss to have a easy tournament in Istanbul? Or a smart move to build confidence and match wins leading in to the US Open?

Comment your thoughts!

My First Blog

The 2010 US Open is only a matter of 7 weeks away now!

Serena Williams will most probably enter the championship a heavy favourite to take out the title. And she has a score to settle from last year's semi-final defeat to eventual champion Kim Clijsters. Now lets talk about the defending champion, she has been hot and cold all year and sadly I do not see her defending the title. Fellow belgium Justine Henin is already out with a injury to her wrist (sustained in her 4th round wimbledon loss to clijsters) so Henin will strugle to finish her come-back season in the top 10 and with a place in the year end championships in doha. The other Williams sister, Venus has little points to defend after a 4th round loss to Clijsters last year. Venus will be a good contendor for a Quater or Semi final but not mych else.

Now the young girls on tour. 2009 finalist Caroline Wozniacki has struggled this season so far despite reaching the world number 2 ranking (currently ranked 3rd) will struggled to defend her points. Azeranka and Radwanska seem to be in free fall. Yanina Wickmayer has struggled with injuries of late but fingersd crossed she will be healthy intime to defend her semi-final from 2009.

There are still someothers who do have a slight chance - Maria Sharapova, Jelena Jankovic, Samantha Stosur, Elena Dementieva, Nadia Petrova has showen great form this year! and with draw going there way even Na Li, Flavia Panetta, Francesca Shcavonie and Shar Pe'er all have thr credentuals to take out a grandslam title. If Serena, Venus and Kim all end up in the same half of the draw!

Please post your thoughts of who you would like to see holding up the US Open Throphy in 2010