Thursday, March 31, 2011

Azarenka takes down Clijsters.

Wednesday night saw a battle between the past two Sony Ericsson Open women’s singles title holders – and Victoria Azarenka came out on top, brushing aside defending champion Kim Clijsters 6-3 6-3 to book her place in the semi-finals. The Belarusian was efficient in breaking Clijsters, converting six of her eight chances. Azarenka had lost four of their five head-to-head matches.

“I think I played a little bit more aggressive [than in the past], played more forward, tried to come in more. That was the biggest difference. And physically I was much more stable today,” Azarenka said afterwards.

The win gives Azarenka her best result of the season; she reached the quarter-finals at Indian Wells and Sydney. The No. 8 seeded Azarenka and 2009 champion now plays No. 3 seed Vera Zvonareva for a chance to reach the Miami final for the second time in three years. “I have to play at a high level, because she's a very consistent player,” assessed Azarenka.

“She's showing some of her best tennis in her life right now, so I definitely have to be aggressive and focused on my game to play forward, and have fun.”

The Russian owns a 6-2 advantage against Azarenka, but the two split their four meetings in 2010 – Azarenka won at the Australian Open and Doha, while Zvonareva won their latest two encounters in Montreal and the WTA Championships.

Vera aproaching Miami final, and No. 2 rank.

Vera Zvonareva advanced to her second semi-final at the Sony Ericsson Open with her 7-5, 6-3 win over No. 9 seed Agnieszka Radwanska. This is the third semi-final appearance of the year for the No. 3 seeded Russian, who reached the same round at both Pattaya City and the Australian Open, where she lost to eventual champion Kim Clijsters.

Zvonareva won five break points in the match against the Radwanska, who also reached the quarter-finals of Miami last year, and the Australian Open earlier this year. “I had to take my chances today,” said Zvonareva in the post-match on-court interview. She attacked the net a number of times often after chasing down Radwanska’s numerous drop shots. “I’m really happy the way I played and the way I came into the net,” she said.

Despite hitting only 53% of her first serves, Zvonareva had 27 winners to Radwanska’s five, and closed out the match in 94 minutes. After today’s challenge, Zvonareva said she will “try to recover the best I can to play good tennis tomorrow.”

If Clijsters also advances to the semi-final, it will be the 11th meeting with the Russian player, five of which occurred since last year’s Wimbledon. Clijsters has the edge, 7-3 overall, but Zvonareva won three of these past five meetings. She and Azarenka split their four matches in 2010, but Zvonareva is 6-2 in career meetings.

Zvonareva could surpass Clijsters at No.2 if she goes on to win the title here.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Kim lucky to survive.

Defending champion Kim Clijsters stunned No. 19 seed Ana Ivanovic Tuesday evening, saving five match points in a spectacular 7-6(4) 3-6 7-6(5) comeback win in the fourth round of the Sony Ericsson

Ivanovic led 5-1 in the final set and had 0-40 on the Belgian’s serve. After missing all three opportunities, the Serb had another chance in the game to clinch the victory, but couldn’t win the elusive point. She later had one more opportunity in Clijsters’ next service game.

The No. 2 seed advances to play Victoria Azarenka in the quarter-finals, a player she holds a 4-1 record against. They last met at Sydney in January, a match Clijsters won 6-3, 6-2 in the quarter-final stage of the tournament.

Down a set and coming off a rain delay, Andrea Petkovic rallied to defeat No. 6 seed Jelena Jankovic 2-6, 6-2, 6-4. The German player had back-to-back wins over Top 10 players, and will advance to her second semi-final of the year. She previously reached the finals at Brisbane. This was the first meeting between Petkovic and Jankovic, who is a former finalist at Miami in 2008.

Petkovic found the strength to rally from behind, drawing on her confidence from yesterday’s win over No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki. “I've just always believed in myself. I always believed that I can beat those top players. It was always just a matter of time,” Petkovic said.

Heading into today’s match, the No. 21 seed took much the same mindset as yesterday, but was surprised by Jankovic’s game. “Jelena started off playing so well that I didn't really get to play my game plan, and I was struggling and I was insecure in the beginning,” she said.

Marathon Maria.

Maria Sharapova advanced to the semi-finals this evening after battling from down a set to defeat Alexandra Dulgheru, 3-6 7-6(6) 7-6(5). The back-to-back finalist from 2005-2006 advanced to her second consecutive WTA semi-final, having reached the same round of Indian Wells last week, and will face Andrea Petkovic, who advanced over Jelena Jankovic earlier this evening.

Dulgheru proved a fighter in the quarter-final match, but the No. 16 Sharapova defeated the Romanian in three and a half hours to continue her path towards her first final of the year. Although Sharapova had 17 double faults to Dulgheru’s four, she clipped 37 winners to just 15 in a telling difference of shotmaking ability.

Sharapova and Petkovic have met only twice, each winning one match, but Petkovic had the latest win, in the round of 16 at the 2011 Australian Open, where she defeated Sharapova in straight sets.

“It was long. It was tough,” Sharapova said. “It was not my best performance, but I gutted it out till the end. I didn't feel great throughout the match. I was making too many errors. My opponent was playing really well and consistent, and even though I had the lead, I just never took care of it. But at the end of the day I won, so I'm really happy.”

Sharapova rolled her ankle late in the third set and was attended to by the WTA physio. However, she said that she was confident of being fully fit for the semi-finals. “It hurt when I did it. I iced it a lot and did an ice bath and got it taped. I think I'll be okay. I'm tough.”

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Petko downs Wozniacki.

Just when the Women’s Tennis Association is accused of being short on personalities in the absence of the Williams sisters, along comes Andrea Petkovic, a free-spirited German who plays the drums, loves politics, hates Valentine’s Day, reads Goethe, aspires to be a journalist and has become somewhat of a YouTube and Twitter sensation with her alter-ego “Petkorazzi.”

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer got big cheers for their routine victories at the Sony Ericsson Open on Monday, and glamorous Maria Sharapova certainly deserves attention for knocking off No. 4 Samantha Stosur, but it was the colorful 23rd-ranked Petkovic who truly put her stamp on the day during and after her surprising fourth-round win over world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki.

She befuddled Wozniacki 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 with her self-described “clever” play, delighted the Stadium Court crowd with her celebratory “Petko Dance,” and then enchanted the media with a witty, unusually thoughtful, frank interview in which she admits her outspoken personality “gets me often in trouble.”

The dance, she explained, began as a bet with her coach at the U.S. Open.

“I was playing really bad, and I got Nadia Petrova in the first round, obviously tough round for me first round U.S. Open, and my coach said, ‘If you win, you have to do something special,’ ’’ Petkovic said. “That was the first thing that came to my mind. Actually, I wanted to get rid of it after the U.S. Open, but the fans said, ‘Hey, we are just coming to see the dance,’ so I brought it back in. But this is definitely the last tournament where it’s going to happen and then I’m moving on to something else.’’

She then volunteered her e-mail address to the gathered reporters, in case anybody had ideas for what she can do to replace the dance. She certainly had reason to do her jig Monday. She explained her winning strategy against Wozniacki.

“Most of the players think they can overpower Caroline, but I think that’s the wrong approach because that’s where she’s most comfortable, when she can run and bring most balls back,” Petkovic said. “Once you lose your concentration, she goes for it. What I try to do is mix it up and make her play, and when I had the short ball, go for it. If you try to hit every single shot full power, full power, she just gets more comfortable, more comfortable, and eventually, you’re going to miss.’’

Wozniacki led 5-4 in the first set and squandered three set points. Visibly frustrated, she kicked the ball angrily.

“Nothing was going on with my forehand, nothing was going on with my backhand, I lost the match,’’ Wozniacki said. “I had so many chances in the first set. I had set points, and I didn’t take them. Then the energy level dropped a little bit. That’s what happens in sport.”

Petkovic has been getting more attention this season, since she reached the final at Brisbane, Australia, and at the Australian Open beat Sharapova to reach her first Grand Slam quarterfinal.

She has a loyal following on her video blog, “Petkorazzi.” Among the players who have appeared on the blog are Novak Djokovic and John Isner. In February, the WTA did a promotion in which it asked players to describe their perfect Valentine’s Day. Most of the players talked of chocolates and flowers. Not Petkovic
“I hate Valentine’s Day,” she said. “It’s too ‘pinky girlie’ for me. My perfect date would probably be to go to a concert, jump around a little bit and then go and have a beer.”

Petkovic was born to Serbian parents who fled to Germany during the Balkan Wars.

Her father was a professional tennis player, but didn’t get very far, and insisted Andrea focus on education. She completed 13 years of school and then decided to turn pro, against her father’s wishes.

“I had a big fight with my dad because he didn’t want me to be a professional tennis player at that time, when I was deciding to go to university [to] play tennis. My dad had experienced this before, and he didn’t want his little daughter to go through the same things. But I had the bigger head in this decision, and I’m quite happy it ended this way.’’

Pics - Forty Deuce

Monday, March 28, 2011

Fromer Chmapions, Kim and Victoria forced to work for victory.

Defending champion Kim Clijsters triumphed on stadium court today over Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez in the third round of the Sony Ericsson Open, ringing up her 500th tour-level match win in the process. The World No. 2 fought for two hours to defeat the Spanish player 6-4 4-6 6-3.

Martinez Sanchez, a left-handed player and the No. 27 seed, challenged Clijsters with a powerful return game, and Clijsters had more unforced errors than usual. “I think a couple of times my footwork wasn't right there and I was not playing the game that I should be playing,” said Clijsters.

“It’s a little hard when you have a player who plays two totally different shots on each side,” she added, acknowledging the difficulties Martinez Sanchez’s left-handed game presented. Nevertheless, the Belgian player saved five of nine break points to close out the match with a total 33 winners.

Clijsters defeated Venus Williams to secure the title here last year, and also won in 2005 against Maria Sharapova, who advanced to the fourth round with her win yesterday.

Although Clijsters retired in the fourth round of Indian Wells last week with a shoulder injury, she seemed confident in her strength for Miami. “I have to focus a lot of my attention and my time on my shoulder, but I know if I can do that that it will stay stable,” she said.

The other former champion of the Miami tournament, Victoria Azarenka, defeated No. 25 seed Dominika Cibulkova 3-6 6-3 6-4. The tiny but powerful Slovak put up a fight against the No. 8 seed, who advances to play a fourth-round match with Pavlyuchenkova.

Cibulkova looked as if she would take the match in the first set, converting three break points and outplaying Azarenka, who had four double faults. The native of Belarus improved her game in the second set, where she broke at love and held at love to power into the third.

In the last hour of play, Azarenka had a read on Cibulkova’s service game to break and hold for a 3-1 advantage. Cibulkova would not be deterred, however, and evened the set at three all. She hit a backhand down the line to bring the final game to 30-all, but Azarenka pushed through the last two points to claim the match off a backhand winner. Cibulkova has not advanced past the third round in Miami.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Wozniacki fights till morning to beat Hantuchova.

The Saturday evening women’s match rolled into a Sunday morning finish, as World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki pushed Daniela Hantuchova to a tie-break battle in the third round match of the Sony Ericsson Open. Wozniacki held off three set points to claim the match 6-1 7-6(7), in one hour and 53 minutes.

At five all in the second set, Wozniacki hit a series of backhands down the line to twice gain the advantage over Hantuchova. She had three break chances, but Hantucova hit an ace and a winner to go up in the second set 6-5. In the next game, Hantuchova gave up two set points, allowing Wozniacki to hold off the break and even the set at six all.

Wozniacki won three consecutive points in the tie-break, only to drop the next five points. While Hantuchova had an opportunity to force a third set, Wozniacki fought back against the Slovakian, who made a collective 54 unforced errors in the course of the match.

This is Wozniacki’s fourth main draw appearance at Miami, to Hantuchova’s 12th, though neither has advanced past the quarter-finals. Wozniacki is now 3-0 in the women’s meetings, and will continue her campaign for a 15th singles title in the fourth round against Andrea Petkovic.

Wozniacki, who has won the last five WTA Premier Mandatory/Premier 5 tournaments, had 20 winners tonight, and is en route to her third title of the year. Though neither she nor Hantuchova has ever won a grand slam tournament, Wozniacki reached the semi-finals of the Australian open this year, and Hantuchova has won a mixed doubles title at each of the four tournaments.

Peng dominates Kuznetsova.

2006 women’s title winner Svetlana Kuznetsova became the latest seeded casualty of the 2011 Sony Ericsson Open, falling to Peng Shuai of China.

Shuai is proving to be a different player this season, and took out Kuznetsova 6-3 6-1 in a spectacular performance to advance to the fourth round Saturday afternoon.

The Chinese No. 2 took full advantage of her opportunities. She broke the 11th-seeded Kuznetsova in the Russian’s first service game to open up a 3-0 lead and, playing with consistency and intensity, she closed out the set without a hitch.

The blend of Shuai’s level of play and Kuznetsova’s frustration continued to brew after the Russian missed three break point opportunities in the second game, having already lost her serve at the start of the set. Kuznetsova would not see another opening on the Chinese’s serve and Peng capitalized two more times to thump Kuznetsova in one hour and 16 minutes.

The win gave Shuai her second victory over Kuznetsova this year, having defeated the two-time Grand Slam champion at Auckland in January. Her fourth-round opponent will be the winner between No. 26 seed Alexandra Dulgheru and Johanna Larsson, who upset 7th-seeded Li Na in the second round.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Tennis Family unites for Japan.

Earlier this evening at the Sony Ericsson Open, the tennis family came together for a special fundraising event for the victims of the Japan earthquake and tsunami disaster, dubbed “Tennis for Japan”, featuring the stars of the WTA and the ATP World Tour.

Kim Clijsters, Robin Soderling, Vera Zvonareva, and many others, including Japan’s Kei Nishikori, Kimiko Date-Krumm, and Ayumi Morita, walked through the stands of the Stadium Court to collect donations from fans and encouraged the public to show support for the victims. In total, thanks to contributions from the WTA, ATP World Tour, the Grand Slams (Australian Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledon, US Open), Sony Ericsson, ITF, IMG, SAP, Itaú, FILA, adidas and Lagardère, and the fans, the evening raised over $300,000 which will be donated to the Red Cross and other relief organizations to aid the victims of the disaster.

“Tennis is a global sport and when a tragedy strikes, the entire tennis community comes together and responds,” said Adam Barrett, Sony Ericsson Open Tournament Director. “I think the fact that the entire tennis family has come together tonight to help raise money for the relief effort makes a powerful statement about the sport, its players, and sponsors.”

“All of us have been deeply touched by the terrible disaster in Japan and I am glad that the tennis family was able to come together to organize this very important event so quickly, giving us the opportunity to raise money for the victims,” said Zvonareva, WTA World No.3. “As tennis players, we travel the world and play in Japan each year, so the disaster has touched all of us on a personal level. I hope that this fundraiser is only a start and the players and the public will continue donating and help the victims in every way possible.”
“It has been horrible to follow what happened in Japan and it is our duty to do as much as we can to raise awareness and funds,” said Soderling, ATP World Tour World No.4. “I am very proud of what the ATP and the rest of the tennis family has done so far and we need to continue to help as much as possible.”

Additionally, numerous players, including Caroline Wozniacki, Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic, Ai Sugiyama, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic recorded video messages of hope supporting the victims. Videos will be shown throughout the 2011 Sony Ericsson Open and online on Facebook and both the WTA and the ATP World Tour’s websites.

Sony Ericsson Open’s defending champion and WTA World No.2 Clijsters was wearing a custom-designed FILA shirt, available for purchase at the Sony Ericsson Open. Proceeds from the sales of the shirt will be donated to Japan earthquake relief funds. Players have also been collecting signed tennis memorabilia which will be auctioned to raise funds.
Shortly after the disaster, Nishikori established a Facebook page in partnership with the Red Cross to collect money for Japan’s victims. Fans can visit!/keinishikori and click on the "Japan Disaster Relief" tab in order to help. Nishikori also created an online auction at Date-Krumm established a Relief Fund account at The WTA tournament in Tokyo, the Toray Pan Pacific Open, is also organizing a charity auction of the WTA players’ signed memorabilia and collectibles which will kick off in April.

On Wednesday night in Miami, many of the ATP World Tour’s top players took part in the ‘Hope Match for Japan’, a charity football match between the ATP World Tour All-Stars and the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, a North American Soccer League team. Marcos Baghdatis, voted the team's most valuable player, and Andy Murray scored goals for the ATP World Tour All-Stars, which was captained by World No. 2 Djokovic. A total of 17 ATP World Tour players took part, including World No.1 Nadal and Nishikori. The charity match, which the Fort Lauderdale Strikers won 4-2, was followed by a gala dinner which raised more than $100,000.

Kirilenko prevails against Mirza.

Kim Clijsters looked solid in her first match since retiring with a shoulder injury at Indian Wells, routing Belarusian qualifier Anastasiya Yakimova in her opening match at the Sony Ericsson Open, 6-1 6-1.

Clijsters, who had to stop mid-match against Marion Bartoli due to a right shoulder injury a week ago, showed no signs of pain as she won easily, needing just 49 minutes and winning over twice as many points (56 to 27).

"I knew she had a good result last week in the Bahamas," Clijsters said of Yakimova, who won a $100,000 ITF Circuit event in Nassau. "I just focused on my own game, tried to be aggressive and find my footwork again. I took a few days off after Indian Wells and needed time to get back into it."

And on the shoulder? "It's not fully healed, but it's healing. To me that's the biggest relief. After Indian Wells I was worried but now I'm able to do almost everything I want out there, which was definitely not the case last week."

Next up for Clijsters, the No.2 seed and defending champion here, is a first-time meeting with No.27-seeded Spaniard María José Martínez Sánchez.

Other winners in the day session were No.9 seed Agnieszka Radwanska, No.12 seed Petra Kvitova, No.15 seed Marion Bartoli, No.24 seed Maria Kirilenko, No.25 seed Dominika Cibulkova, No.28 seed Jarmila Groth and unseeded players Virginie Razzano, Ekaterina Makarova and Lourdes Domínguez Lino. Razzano pulled off the biggest upset of the day so far, edging No.14 seed Kaia Kanepi in a competitive two-setter, 6-3 7-6(5).

In her first match since reaching the final of Indian Wells last week and making it back into the Top 10, Bartoli beat Ayumi Morita in a see-saw duel, 6-3 2-6 6-1. Bartoli lost seven of eight games from 6-3 1-0 up, finding herself down 1-0 in the third set; but she caught fire again and reeled off six games in a row to win.

Kirilenko also pulled off a comeback win, winning 11 straight games from 75 31 down to dispatch qualifier Sania Mirza, 5-7 6-3 6-0. Next up for Kirilenko is Radwanska - Radwanska leads Kirilenko in their head-to-head series, 4-2.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Stosur wins, Seeds take supremisis.

Seeded players reigned supreme in the second round matches of the women’s draw. No. 4 Sam Stosur stepped out today against Jie Zheng and walked away with a commanding 6-2 6-1 win. “I did what I had to do. Against a player like Jie Zheng, you want to be able to do that from start to finish,” said Stosur.

The Australia broke Zheng to gain a 4-2 advantage in the first set and powered on from there to end the match in a short 58 minutes. Stosur, ranked No. 4 for this year’s tournament, reached the quarter-finals last year, but lost to eventual champion Kim Clijsters. She will play Czech Lucie Safarova in the third round. Stosur said she will have to adjust her game to play the lefty, “who can pretty much beat anyone on her day”.

Svetlana Kuznetsova played her first match of the tournament today against Simona Halep. The 11th seeded Russian played a powerful game, breaking all three of Halep’s service games to take the first set 6-0. Halep pulled off four games in the second, but Kuznetsova broke at the end to win the match, 6-0 6-4. Kuznetsova potentially faces No. 20 Aravane Rezai in the third round.

No. 29 Daniela Hantuchova broke American Melanie Oudin in the final game of the match to claim a 6-1 6-3. In her 12th appearance at the Sony Ericsson Open this year, the Slovak stormed the court, breaking Oudin’s serve twice and gaining a 5-0 advantage before Oudin won her first service game. “I felt like I was really playing well overall, moving good, and that was a good sign,” Hantuchova said. She converted five break points and could face Caroline Wozniacki in the third round. “I’ve got nothing to lose,” she added.

The day’s surprising upset saw No. 10 Shahar Peer fall to Spain’s Anabel Medina Garrigues. The Spaniard converted four break points to claim the 6-2 6-2 match in one hour. Medina Garrigues will advance to the third round to play either Elena Vesnina or No. 23 Yanina Wickmayer.

Sixth seed Jelena Jankovic defeated Monica Niculescu 6-3 6-1 and will advance to play Klara Zakopalova, who won her first match of the tournament over Britain’s Elena Baltacha, 7-6(4) 6-3.

Alexandra Dulgheru also advanced, with a 6-3 6-2 win over Chanelle Scheepers, and Andrea Petkovic defeated American qualifier Jamie Hampton, 6-2 7-5, winning five break points and booking her place in the third round.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Safina prevails in the highly anticipated 1st round clash.

In the most anticpated 1st round match at the Sony Ericssion Open, former world No.1 Dinara Safina broke former world No.4 Jelena Dokic's serve at 4-all in both sets on her way to a 6-4 6-4 first-round victory.

"I was really pleased with my serve and showed I can serve not only double faults but also some aces," said Safina, who ended each set off with an ace.

Both Safina, a wildcard at the event this year, and Dokic, this time a qualifier, have quarterfinal Miami appearances as their best results at the tournament. Safina, currently ranked 91st, reached the last 8 in 2008, when she lost to fellow Russian Vera Zvonareva, who will actually be her opponent in the awaiting round this year. The world No.64 Dokic played Miami quarterfinals in 2001 and 2003.

Game, Sex Match?

There's moaning, close ups, fishnet stockings, leather and an explosive ending.

It sounds like porn, but it's actually an advertisement for a tennis videogame, starring champion Serena Williams.

Dressed in thigh-high boots and a skimpy leotard Williams, dubbed "The World's Sexiest Tennis Player", takes on self-professed "geek" actress Rileah Vanderbilt in a game of 2K Sports' Top Spin 4.

Advertisement: Story continues below The video, which drew mixed reactions from female sporting advocates who saw the clip, has been doing the rounds online.

Johanna Adriaanse, co-chair of the International Working Group on Women and Sport, said it was a shame when sportswomen used sex to build their profile.

Serena Williams was an amazing athlete who should be proud of her powerful body and how she used it on the tennis court, Ms Adriaanse said.

"The main thing is if she's good looking that's fine, but there's a difference between being good looking and looking after your body and actually using the body just as a sexualised object to gain media coverage.

"I really think that sportswomen, with great bodies, with great performances, they should first and foremost be valued and respected for their performances on the fields, like they do with sportsmen usually."

The video was supposedly "leaked" and 2K Sports have distanced themselves from the ad, saying it was not their official campaign and was one of many marketing avenues they explored.

A much more subdued ad for the game is also online, instead showing clips from the game itself.

Kay de Bry, president of the Women In Sport Foundation, said Williams has every right to star in a raunchy video.

"She didn't have to do this to get attention," Ms de Bry said.

"She played good tennis and that's where she got all the attention and she's just having a bit of fun, I'd say."

Williams is known for wearing flamboyant and risque outfits on the court, including a lacy red and black dress during the French Open last year and a short green dress at the Australian Open.

Ms de Bry said the video was particularly "tame" compared to flesh-coloured underpants she wore on court that gave the illusion that she was wearing nothing at all.

"It just shows they're human in a way. I think it doesn't hurt women's sport.

"And it lifts the profile in some ways because basically you're dealing with the media and they like to see sensational things."

"I don't think it's harming women's sport in any way."

Ms Adriaanse said sportspeople can build their profiles by instead doing community and charity work.

Australian athletes like swimmer Libby Trickett, netballer Catherine Cox and Ellyse Perry, who plays soccer and cricket, are good examples of women who have avoided using sex to promote their careers, she said.

"There is of course the underlying problem there that women's sport gets so much less coverage in the media than men's sport.

"I think there are other ways to address that than profiling sexy sportswomen."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Jelena Dokic continues good from to win Qualfying round 1.

Top seed Australian qualifier Jelena Dokic continued her good form to win her encounter against Tatjana Malek of Germany in the first round qualifiers of the Sony Ericsson Open at Miami, Florida on Monday night. The Aussie won a three-set thriller 5-7 6-3 6-4, in two hours and eight minutes to advance to the second round.

The 27-year-old Australian veteran avenged her defeat by the German, levelling their head-to-head record at 1-1. She was defeated by Malek in the 2009 edition of Wimbledon but got the better of her opponent this time around. Dokic dropped the opening set of the contest but bounced back in to the game to register her 14th victory of the running WTA season.

It was an enthralling contest to watch as the two players pushed hard at each other to book a berth in the second round of the qualifiers. Dokic had a sloppy start to the game but recovered very well from the one-set deficit to win the match. Malek took off very well to bag the opener but lost her momentum in the later two sets to end her voyage at the Sony Ericsson Open.

The Aussie served decently in the match, delivering 61 per cent serve on target and taking 41 out of 61 points on it. She committed six double faults in the process but belted six aces as well to nullify the mistakes. Dokic crafted a total of eight opportunities to break the opponent’s serve and succeeded three times in doing so.

Malek’s aggressive start to the opener put her in the commanding position as she collected 74 per cent of her first serve points. The German displayed brilliant error-free tennis to edge pass her opponent, capitalizing upon the silly mistakes of Dokic. The two double faults by the Aussie proved costly for her as Malek cracked the first serve break of the match to close the opening set at 7-5.

The Australian had a strict check over her unforced errors in the next set and stung an early break to get to commanding lead of 4-1. Although Malek collected 81 per cent of her first serve points, she failed to break the Australian serve in the second set and kept lagging behind as Dokic clinched the second set at 6-3.

With the two players bagging one set a piece, an action packed third set was witnessed. An early exchange of serve breaks was seen from both sides but a second break point from Dokic gave her the necessary momentum to conclude victory at 6-4.

Dokic will take on Christina McHale of the United States in the second round of the qualifiers. McHale ousted Carina Witthoeft of Germany in straight sets, 6-2, 6-2, in the opening round.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Venus Williams pulls out of Miami.

Three-time champion Venus Williams has pulled out of next week's Sony Ericsson Open in Miami with an abdominal injury.

The 30-year-old world number eight has only played three matches in 2011 and is set to drop out of the top 10.

Williams picked up the injury during January's Australian Open and managed just seven points before retiring against Andrea Petkovic in round three.

Serena Williams will miss Miami as she recovers from a blood clot, while Kim Clijsters is also doubtful.

The world number two from Belgium, who defeated Venus Williams in last year's Miami final, withdrew from this week's BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells with a nagging shoulder injury.

Venus, who missed much of the latter stages of 2010 with a knee injury, was undefeated in three successive appearances in Miami in 1998, 1999 and 2001.

"I am very sorry to not be playing in the Sony Ericsson Open this year," said the American, who lives 90 minutes north of Key Biscayne in Palm Beach Gardens and considers the tournament her home event.

"It is one of my favourite tournaments on the circuit, especially because it is so close to my home in South Florida. I look forward to returning to the tour soon."

Caro goes on better.

After a runner-up finish last year at the BNP Paribas Open, World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki claimed the title Sunday at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden with a 6-1 2-6 6-3 win over France's Marion Bartoli.
“It's pretty much a two-week event, and you have days in between like in the Grand Slams. It's a big tournament, and I'm very, very happy,” said Wozniacki. “Once again, I showed that I can play great tennis, and I've beaten some really good players this week.”

The 20-year-old Dane had impressed in her semi-final match against past champion Maria Sharapova two nights earlier, and carried that form into her second straight Indian Wells final, conceding just three points on serve to race through the opening set.

Bartoli put up a fight, breaking Wozniacki twice in the second set to extend the match, but the top seed came back strong in the third as she opened up a double-break lead to go up 4-1. Though Bartoli recovered one break of serve to narrow the lead to 4-3, Wozniacki won the final three games, clinching the title on her second match point when Bartoli’s return sailed long.

“I played very, very well, I thought, actually in the whole match, but first set I felt like I had the most control,” said Wozniacki. “I had her running; I had her moving. Second set, she just went for her shots. She started to hit even harder. I didn't feel I played badly. I thought actually I played pretty good, but she was very steady, keeping the pressure. In the third set, I just kept my head cool. We had a lot of long rallies, but I came up with the wins, so it was nice.”

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Wozniacki, who has improved on each of her five visits to Indian Wells, is the eighth different women’s champion here in the last eight years and the 16th overall in tournament history.

She has now won 14 tour-level titles, placing her fifth among active players on the WTA Tour. Wozniacki also won the Dubai title last month.

Bartoli was contesting her first final since 2009, when she won her biggest career title at the Premier-level event in Stanford. She had ousted two past champions, Kim Clijsters and Ana Ivanovic, this past fortnight.

“After the first set I really start to play a lot better,” said Bartoli. “Honestly, I think it was one of the best match I ever played from the second set on towards the end. We had some really nice shots from both of us. I think it was a great match to watch from the crowd, and I really enjoyed playing it, even though I come up a bit short at the end.

“You can always say you could have done better, but I think I pretty much gave everything on the court. Sometimes you come up a bit short. But if I keep working like that, I'm sure I'm going to improve and be even a better player.”

PS. Sorry its been so long between posts, I have been expirencing some technical difficulties.

Friday, March 18, 2011



Completly un-tennis related, but post worthy!

She is horrible!

And on this Friday we have some juciy Indian Wells action to look forward too :)

Order of play;
1. ATP: Gasquet vs. Djokovic
2. Yanina Wickmayer vs. Marion Bartoli (NB 13.00hrs)
3. ATP: Wawrinka vs. Federer (NB 15.00hrs)
4. ATP: López/Nadal vs. Federer/Wawrinka (NB 18.00hrs)
5. Caroline Wozniacki vs. Maria Sharapova (NB 20.00hrs)


But I recomend you don't quote me on it!

I couldn't agree more.

Sharapova advances to Semi.

Past champion Maria Sharapova will play top seed Caroline Wozniacki for a place in the BNP Paribas Open final after overcoming China's Peng Shuai 6-2 5-7 6-3 on Thursday in Indian Wells.

It will be the fourth time that Sharapova and Wozniacki are facing off in tour-level competition. Sharapova won their first two meetings before Wozniacki defeated the Russian in straight sets last year at the US Open.

“She's the No. 1 player in the world, and she certainly deserves it,” said Sharapova, who held the No. 1 ranking for 17 weeks, most recently in 2007. “She's doing a lot of things really well right now and she's a very consistent player. That has won her many, many matches.

“I didn't have a great match against her at the US Open. I didn't feel like I played that well. I'm hoping that tomorrow I'll come out and it will be a different situation. I'm just gonna fight for every point. I look forward to it.”

Sharapova spent nearly two more hours on court than Wozniacki, who advanced after 26 minutes of play when Victoria Azarenka retired with a left hip injury.

Though Sharapova made a comfortable start to the match, going up a set and a break, she dropped serve three times in the second set to allow the 36th-ranked Peng to draw level. She lost serve two more times in the decisive set, but took full advantage of her break points, going 4 for 4 on her chances to close out the victory.

“I'm really happy to be in the semis of this tournament,” said Sharapova. “I felt like I was playing really well for the first set and a half, and then really let her back in the game… She's a really aggressive player and puts a lot of pressure on you from the first point, and if you're not the one doing that, it becomes dangerous. That's what happened. I just started making too many errors.

“But then, most important thing is I got myself together, and I focused and regrouped. The match is never over till the last point, so I was really strong, and I'm really happy about that.”

Sharapova, the 2006 titlist, advances to the semi-finals at the BNP Paribas Open for a fourth time. She is the last former champion remaining in the 2011 draw following the exits of Jelena Jankovic, Vera Zvonareva, Ana Ivanovic, Daniela Hantuchova and Kim Clijsters.

The 23 year old is making her first main draw appearance since the Australian Open, sidelined for five weeks with an upper respiratory viral illness, and will be looking to reach her first final since last August in Cincinnati

Vika and Caro send a message to Japan, Vika forced to retire.

Caroline Wozniacki and Victoria Azarenka unfurled a Japanese flag following their quarter-final match against Victoria Azarenka Thursday morning at the BNP Paribas Open, displaying the words, “Our thoughts are with you! Caroline & Victoria.”

“I have been looking at the news, and it's just devastating to see what's going on in Japan and all the families and people affected there,” said Wozniacki. “We just wanted to show that we're thinking about them over there. It's tough for us to do something, but at least we thought this was the least we could do.”

The night before they were to face off for a semi-final spot at the WTA premier event, Wozniacki and Azarenka came together to write the message. “I think it was nice, and Victoria helped me out, what to write, also,” said the 20-year-old Dane. “We just thought that this was gonna be a nice gesture in the match.”
The match ended on a bittersweet note for the two good friends, when Azarenka retired with a left hip injury just three games into the match.

“Victoria is one of my best friends on the tour, and to see her in pain on the court and to see her get injured was not nice for sure,” said Wozniacki. “I would like to have won it in another way, but I'm through to the semi-finals. I'm happy to be there. I'm looking forward to my next match.”

The WTA No. 1 will look to reach the final for a second straight year in Indian Wells when she next faces the winner between past champion Maria Sharapova and unseeded Peng Shuai, and felt confident about her form.

“I know that if a player has to beat me, either she has to overpower me or she needs to stand there for hours and hours,” she said. “It's a good feeling to have because I feel that I'm in good shape. I can stand there for hours and I can take my chances. I also think I have developed my aggressive game. So I can step it up if I need to, and I think that the players feel that.

“At the same time, it's very important for me that I go out to every single match, I'm 100 percent focused, and that's what I am every time.”

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wickmayer and Bartoli set up Indian Wells SF.

With a barrage of winners from every part of her game, Yanina Wickmayer overpowered Shahar Peer on Wednesday evening to reach the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open and return to the Top 20.

The two held tightly to their service games early, neither coming close to being broken in the first five games; the No.23-seeded Wickmayer cracked the match open in the sixth game with a break at 15 and rode that wave until she was up, 6-3 5-1. Peer, the No.10 seed, won two games in a row to close to 6-3 5-3 but Wickmayer was too powerful on the return and broke again for a 6-3 6-3 win.

The aggression gap was notable - while the two had comparable numbers of unforced errors in the match (Wickmayer 20, Peer 22), the Belgian was by and large the one in control with far more winners (Wickmayer 19, Peer 7). The Belgian finished it off with a big forehand return that drew an error from Peer.

"I woke up this morning and felt really good," Wickmayer said. "I had a good practice and when I came out today I felt really good and powerful out there."

Wickmayer is projected to return to the Top 20 on Monday's rankings. She spent 50 career weeks in the Top 20 during the 2009 and 2010 seasons but fell out in October 2010 and has been hovering between No.22 and No.26 ever since. She peaked at No.12 in the world for three weeks last spring.

Next up for Wickmayer is No.15 seed Marion Bartoli, who beat No.19 seed Ana Ivanovic earlier on Wednesday.

Bartoli leads Wickmayer in their head-to-head series, 2-0.

France’s Marion Bartoli defeated past champion Ana Ivanovic 6-4 7-6(4) on Wednesday afternoon in Indian Wells to reach the BNP Paribas Open semi-finals.

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The players exchanged service breaks in the first three games, setting the tone for match that would feature a combined 13 breaks. Bartoli went on a five-game run to go up a set and a break, but Ivanovic continued to battle back. She got back on serve four different times in the second set before Bartoli finally closed out the two-hour, seven-minute victory in the tie-break.

Bartoli admitted afterwards that she not been in her best condition entering the match.

“Since this morning I noticed I felt quite bad,” she said. “I was not able to eat any breakfast. I slept before my match, because I was really feeling sick. I went on court, and at the beginning, the weather was that hot, so it kind of helped me. But then it started to feel really hot, and then in the end of the first set I was definitely not feeling very good.

“So to be able to still win these kind of matches against a player as good as Ana, it means a lot to me. Being in the semi-final was really huge, so I didn't even thought about the celebration. It comes out naturally because I was really happy.”

The 26-year-old Bartoli had not advanced beyond the fourth round in her previous nine visits to the desert, while the 23-year-old Ivanovic had won the title in 2008 and finished runner-up the following year.

With Ivanovic’s loss, Maria Sharapova is the only past Indian Wells champion remaining in the draw. The Russian plays unseeded Peng Shuai in her quarter-final match Thursday.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ivanovic wins Serbian showdown, Bartoli gets easy pass to Quarter Final.

Ana Ivanovic ousted Jelena Jankovic 6-4 6-2 in an all-Serbian showdown between former BNP Paribas Open champions and WTA World No. 1s on Tuesday at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, and afterwards called it her best match of the season.

“Definitely. I'm really happy,” she said. “I played some good tennis in past few weeks, as well. But to have it all the way through and play consistent on that level, I'm really pleased.”

Ivanovic earned the only break of the first set in the opening game and broke again to start the second set. Though Jankovic got back on serve at 2-all, Ivanovic won the final four games to oust the defending champion.

“It was a tough match,” said Jankovic, who fell to a 3-7 record against Ivanovic. “Ana played really well. She was really on her game today. I had a lot of opportunities, a lot of break points. Especially that first set, every game on her serve I almost had a lot of break points, and I managed to convert only one, which was in the second.

“I felt like my game was not really there. I wasn't really doing the right things out there, and she was really on her game. She was the better player.”

Ivanovic is through to the BNP Paribas Open quarter-finals for a fourth time in six appearances. She won the title in 2008 and came just short of the title defense the following year.

“I enjoy this place a lot. The conditions for tennis are perfect, besides that one year we played the final,” she said with a laugh. “But, no, it's very nice and it's very relaxing. You get lots of practice courts and hotel is close by, so there is not that much outside stress as well. That’s what I enjoy as well.”

She will next meet France’s Marion Bartoli, who was up a break in the second set when two-time champion and No. 2 seed Kim Clijsters retired with an injury at 3-6 3-1 after 65 minutes of play. Bartoli, the first opponent Clijsters faced when she made her comeback from a two-year absence in 2009 at Cincinnati, had lost to the Belgian in their previous three career meetings.

“I wasn't serving with the same speed. I wasn't able to accelerate with my right arm, with my forehand,” said Clijsters. “At some point you're like, Okay, what do I do, knowing if I get through this match maybe it's gonna get worse and I'm not gonna play that next match, and there is no match in that next round? Or do I go for it?

“It's confusing, but I said, Look, just do what you think is best for yourself and don't worry about anybody else. That's obviously what I did, and tried to think, Okay, in the long run, what is the most important thing for me right now?”

The 27-year-old Clijsters had reached the final in her other three main draw appearances this season, winning the Australian
Open title in between runner-up showings in Sydney and Paris.

Tenth-seeded Israeli Shahar Peer went the distance to book her places in the quarter-finals, prevailing against fifth seed Francesca Schiavone of Italy 6-4 3-6 7-6(3) after two hours and 46 minutes.

Peer is making her 10th visit to the desert and is through to the quarter-finals for the first time. She will play Belgian Yanina Wickmayer next after the No. 23 seed defeated Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova 7-5 7-5. Cibulkova had upset No. 3 seed and 2009 champion Vera Zvonareva in the third round.

Azarenka saves match points, Wozniacki advances.

Following straightforward wins in her first two matches at the 2011 BNP Paribas Open, WTA No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki was made to work for a place in the quarter-finals, rallying past Russian Alisa Kleybanova 2-6 6-3 6-1 in one hour and 55 minutes Tuesday in Indian Wells.

Wozniacki made a slow start to the match, winning just four points on return and dropping serve twice, before gaining her footing.

“It was a tough match,” admitted the top seed and 2010 finalist. “I think I made a little bit too many unforced errors in the beginning. She started well, she started aggressively, but I just couldn't find my rhythm out there.

“Then second set I just told myself I needed to move my feet a little bit more. I need to have a little bit more margin over the net and from the lines, and things started to go my way a little bit more and I started to play better.”

Wozniacki advances to the BNP Paribas Open quarter-finals for a third straight year and will next confront a good friend, No. 8 seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus.

“We were competing together when we were both young, under 18s,” the 20-year-old Dane said. “One of our first tournaments we played on the WTA was in Memphis, and we played doubles together there. We made it to the finals.

“We just have such a nice friendship. She's such a good girl. I really enjoy spending time with her. It's just great that we're two friends who are doing well, and wish each other well.”

Azarenka saved four match points to battle past No. 9 Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 4-6 6-3 7-6(3) after three hours and four minutes. The 21 year old will be looking to reach the Indian Wells semi-finals for a second time.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sharapova steps up, Safina resurgent.

Russian Maria Sharapova lost her opening service game Monday afternoon at the BNP Paribas Open, but quickly regrouped to defeat No. 20 seed Aravane Rezai of France 6-2 6-2.

“I started like I didn't have my cup of coffee or something, didn't have my peeps around, so that was disappointing,” she said. “I got it together.”

Sharapova, who spent nearly three hours on court in her opening match against Spaniard Anabel Medina Garrigues, rolled through six straight games to win the first set and broke Rezai two more times in the second to close out the win in one hour and 13 minutes.

“It was a very different opponent to someone I played in the first round who maybe hit a lot of balls,” she said. “This is someone who can hit a winner from any part of the court really, and you just have to be ready and try to make her hit another shot. When she's on, she can be one of the toughest players to play against. She had a lot of errors today. But overall it was solid. I had good return games, I returned a lot better, and served a lot better in the second set.”

The 23-year-old Sharapova won the Indian Wells title in 2006 with victory over Elena Dementieva in the final.
She next meets compatriot Dinara Safina, who knocked out fourth-seeded Australian Samanatha Stosur 7-6(2) 6-4 in one hour and 56 minutes. Safina committed 16 doubles faults, but countered losing her serve three times by breaking Stosur four times from 11 opportunities.

“I still managed to win a match, so that's a good thing,” said Safina. “Apart from that, I still stayed tough mentally. I said, 'okay, it's not my day on serving, but it might be on the baseline.'”

The former WTA No. 1 had come into the week ranked No. 108, and admitted following her second round win over two-time champion Daniela Hantuchova on Saturday that she’d briefly contemplated retirement earlier this season.

“Definitely it's a nice feeling to get it back,” she said. “It's been a while since I [had] these feelings, after winning the match that you really can smile and you can enjoy the win. Many things have happened, so I want to just enjoy the moment.”

No. 18 seed Nadia Petrova was the fourth Russian woman to win in third-round action Monday, ousting the last American standing, 18-year-old wild card Christina McHale, 3-6 6-4 6-2 in two hours and four minutes.

Petrova will play China’s Peng Shuai for a place in the quarter-finals. The 36th-ranked Peng needed two hours to get past Czech qualifier Lucie Hradecka 6-3 4-6 7-5.

Wozniacki races to 4th round.

After going winless in her previous three matches against Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, WTA No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki had no problem getting by the Spaniard on Monday at the BNP Paribas Open. She dismissed Martinez Sanchez 6-1 6-3 in 71 minutes in the opening match on Stadium 1.

“She's a very different player; you don't get any rhythm against her,” said Wozniacki. “And for me today, it was important to move my feet, try to get as many returns back, and it helped me a little bit that she didn't get too many first serves in so I could go in and dictate the game. As long as I kept her on the baseline, then I felt like I was in control of the point. But it was very important to keep the pressure but not force it too much.”

The 20-year-old Dane, who spent 68 minutes on court in her opening match Saturday, advances to the fourth round in Indian Wells for a fourth straight year. She came close to winning the title last year, falling to Jelena Jankovic in the final.

Wozniacki will look to continue her run when she next plays 22nd-seeded Russian Alisa Kleybanova, who accounted for No. 13 seed Flavia Pennetta of Italy 6-3 6-4. Kleybanova, 21, reached the Indian Wells quarter-finals last year.

Ninth seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland fought past Maria Kirilenko 6-0 2-6 7-5 in her third round match. Radwanska prevented the 24th-seeded Russian from serving out the match at 5-3 as she proceeded to win the final four games.

Radwanska, 22, has reached the quarter-finals or better the past three years at the BNP Paribas Open.

Belarusian Victoria Azarenka, the No. 8 seed, prevented a fourth-round showdown between the Radwanska sisters after defeating 172nd-ranked Urszula Radwanska 7-6(3) 6-3 in just under two hours in the second match on Stadium 2.

The 21-year-old Azarenka, a resident of Scottsdale, leads Radwanska 4-2 in the lifetime series including wins in their two most recent meetings.

Azarenka achieved her best Indian Wells finish in 2009, when she reached the semi-finals before losing to eventual champion Vera Zvonareva.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Kim lucky to survive, Vera knocked out in Marathon.

Second seed Kim Clijsters made a surprising third-round exit at last year’s BNP Paribas Open, but avoided the same fate Sunday at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden as she recovered for a 6-3 2-6 6-4 win over Italian Sara Errani. After losing four straight service games to allow Errani to draw level, Clijsters went up the decisive break at 2-1 in the third set.

Clijsters admitted she wasn’t overly pleased with her performance, but drew on the positives. “I played a tricky player who played a good match, and I was still able to win without being close to coming to my best level,” she said. “That's the positive thing. I also know that for my next match everything will have to be a lot better. That's what my goal will be for that next match, is trying to achieve that.”

Clijsters, who has reached the final in all three of her main draw appearances this season, next plays France’s Marion Bartoli. The No. 15 seed defeated 21st-seeded German Andrea Petkovic 6-4, 6-2.

“Bartoli is a player who hits the ball very fast, likes to play into the court, and also likes girls who play fast,” she said. “I'm going to have to try and mix it up a little bit more. And obviously, she's not a bad mover, but she's not the greatest mover out there, so I'm going to have to really try and go for those lines and make her move and not let her go into the court and dictate and let her use those down the lines too much.”

The 27-year-old Clijsters made her return to the desert in 2010 after a four-year absence. She won the title in 2003 and ’05 (d. Davenport both times) and was also a finalist in 2001 (l. to S. Williams).

Reigning Roland Garros champion Francesca Schiavone, the No. 5 seed, extended her winning record against French qualifier Alize Cornet to 7-1, capitalising on four of nine break points en route to a 6-2, 6-3 victory. The Italian is through to the fourth round for just the second time in 10 event apperances, also reaching this stage in 2008 (l. to Ivanovic).

Schiavone next plays 10th-seeded Israeli Shahar Peer, who needed two hours and 17 minutes to defeat Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 2-6 6-3 7-5.

Belgian Yanina Wickmayer advanced with a 3-6 6-4 6-1 win over No. 14 seed Kaia Kanepi, and will face Dominika Cibulkova in the fourth round after the Slovakian upset World No. 3 Vera Zvonareva 4-6 7-6(4) 6-4 after three hours and eight minutes in the final match on Stadium One and having saved five match points.

It marked Zvonareva’s earliest exit in Indian Wells, where she had reached the fourth round or better in her six previous visits. The 26 year old had won both the singles and doubles titles at the BNP Paribas Open in 2009.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Ana advances, Petra stunned.

In her first match in almost a month, Ana Ivanovic opened with a win in Indian Wells, beating Kimiko Date-Krumm, 6-4 6-2.

After a first round loss to Patty Schnyder in Dubai three and a half weeks ago, Ivanovic withdrew from Doha the week after due to an abdominal injury; on Friday night she made a welcome return to court as the No.19 seed against Date-Krumm, losing just 17 points in nine service games against the Japanese.

"The first set was a little bit shaky but my serve kind of pulled me through it," Ivanovic said. "I played Kimiko in Bali last year and practiced with her recently. I know she likes pace, so if you give it to her in her hitting zone, she can hurt you off if. I tried to get it out of her comfort zone, mixing up the pace and height.

"I have so much respect for Kimiko, just her story, being on top of the game and coming back and still playing so well, and in the meantime running marathons. It's just impressive. If I am that fit at her age, I would be more than happy."

Ivanovic was in a few places since the aforementioned loss in Dubai. "After Dubai I was in London for about a week with my brother, also doing some rehab work. Then I went to Vegas for a week and I worked there with my sparring partner and Darren was helping me on the court. Then I came here on Sunday."

Next up for Ivanovic is Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, who pulled off the biggest upset of the day, rallying to beat No.12 seed and good friend Petra Kvitova, 3-6 6-2 7-5. They played recently in Paris, with Kvitova saving match point to win.

"It was another tough match with Petra today. It's always hard to play against a friend," Zahlavova Strycova said. "I think Paris was a much better match than today, but I managed to win this one so I'm very happy. She's a great player. It was very hot today and a long match, but this is what we train for."

Zahlavova Strycova's win over the No.14-ranked Kvitova was the best of her career, her only two previous Top 20 wins coming against No.15-ranked players (Flavia Pennetta at Monterrey in 2009, Nadia Petrova at Sydney this year).

Ivanovic leads Zahlavova Strycova in their head-to-head series, 1-0.

Kvitova was the only Top 16 seed to fall, although two others had big battles: No.10 seed Shahar Peer was down 6-4 4-3 and fended off two points for a 6-4 5-3 deficit to beat Bethanie Mattek-Sands, 4-6 7-6(5) 6-3; and No.15 seed Marion Bartoli came from a set down to defeat Monica Niculescu, 2-6 6-3 6-2.

Kim Clijsters, Vera Zvonareva, Francesca Schiavone and Jelena Jankovic moved into the third round in straight sets.

Safina gettin back, Jovanoski and Radwanska continue a rich rivalry.

Former world no.1 one Dinara Safina showed signs she can get back to her best with an easy win at the WTA Indian Wells on Friday.

Safina, ranked 108th in the world now, never lost her serve in a 6-3 6-3 victory over Spaniard Arantxa Parra Santonja to book her spot in the second round.

Safina, who occupied the no.1 ranking in the world for half the year in 2009, had a shocking 2010 and did not start her 2011 too much better with first-round losses in Auckland and Hobart.

She then became the first ever former world No.1 to lose a Grand Slam fixture without winning a game, after Kim Clijsters knocked her out of the 2011 Australian Open 6-0 6-0, but after her victory, Safina said she is getting more positive all the time.

"I'm getting more and more positive," Safina said.

"I'm working day by day and trying to get better, and with the hard work I believe I will get better. Nobody forgets how to play."

Other first-round matches saw British no.1 Elena Baltacha surprise world No. 37 Roberta Vinci, 2-6 7-5 6-2.

Baltacha saved four match points in the second set to record the win while Urszula Radwanska saved one, as she defeated Bojana Jovanovski 3-6 6-4 7-6 (8-6).

Romanian Simona Halep also displayed fighting qualities, to defeat Spaniard Nuria Llagostera Vives 0-6 6-2 6-4 and China's Shuai Peng defeated the Czech Republic's Renata Voracova 7-5 6-1.

Wildcard Sloane Stephens defeated qualifier Jamie Hampton while in a battle of two qualifiers, Lucie Hradecka triumphed 7-6 (9-7) 6-2 against Kirsten Flipkens.

Hungary's Agnes Szavay beat American Jill Craybas 6-3 6-3, the Czech Republic's Iveta Benesova toppled Varvara Lepchenko 6-1 6-2 and Swede Sofia Arvidsson dumped Jie Zheng out of the tournament, 6-3 6-2.

Russian Anna Chakvetadze was too good for Japan's Misaki Doi 7-6 (7-0) 6-1 while Spaniard Laura Pous-Tio surprised German Angelique Kerber 6-2 6-1.

Ursula Radwanska, sister of Poland's Agnieska, won a thriller against Serbian Bojana Jovanovski 3-6 6-4 7-6 (10-8), the pair had played twice before, both being dramaic three setters! Last week in Kuala Lumpur; Jovanovski prevailed 1-6 7-5 6-4 and the week before that, in Doha Jovanovski again won in dramatic style 4-6 6-1 7-6 (13-11) I think it would be fairly safe to assume that these two could have an amazing rivlalry unfolding.

Spain's Anabel Medina Garrigues defeated Austrian Tamira Paszek 6-1 6-1 and American Christina McHale also easily won, toppling Uzbekistan's Akgul Amanmuradova 6-3 6-1

Friday, March 11, 2011

Americans start well in Indian Wells

The highest-ranked American not named Williams was in top form on Day 1 of the BNP Paribas Open on Wednesday, as Bethanie Mattek-Sands beat Vera Dushevina at the $4.5-million stop.

Mattek-Sands, ranked No.43, had won all three of her previous meetings with Dushevina in straight sets and that continued, as she raced out to 5-1 in the first set and 4-1 in the second set, holding off the No.51-ranked Russian, 6-4 6-4.

Mattek-Sands has never passed the second round here and has No.10 seed Shahar Peer next. Peer has won all four of their previous meetings.

"I'm going to do the best I can," said Mattek-Sands, who has been ill the last few weeks and struggled on court during her first round match. "You've just gotta fight through it. That's what I did today. I was just trying to keep the points short and stay aggressive, which is my style anyway, so it worked out for me."

The other Americans in action had mixed results, with Coco Vandeweghe winning but Vania King, Alison Riske and Lauren Davis all falling. King was up 6-2 2-0 on Argentina's Gisela Dulko before the Latin American No.1 rallied to win, 2-6 6-3 6-2. At night, Melanie Oudin beat Elena Vesnina, 7-6(2) 6-2.

Vandeweghe spoke about her recent improvements after a 4-6 6-3 6-4 win over Edina Gallovits-Hall. "My coach told me I served at 33%, which is a crazy number for me on the serve, but to pull it out is an accomplishment in itself. I've been taking training very seriously off the court, which is really important. Many people were telling me I was out of shape. Maybe I wasn't eating right or doing certain things but now I have a trainer and I've been feeling pretty quick."

Oudin was also pleased with her win. "Elena killed me the last few times we played, so this was a really good win for me tonight. I stayed in the points well today. I mixed in some slices and drops shots and overall I played pretty well. In all of these matches I'm getting so close, it's all about pulling out the win."

The best player of all time from the other side of the world, Kimiko Date-Krumm, was also among the winners, beating Yaroslava Shvedova, 6-4 7-5.

"This was a big victory for me, because since January I've lost first round at every tournament except Pattaya," Date-Krumm said. "All of those matches were very close but I just couldn't finish them. Today was also close, especially in the second set. It was very meaningful winning this match today."

This is Date-Krumm's fourth time playing at Indian Wells, her first coming all of 20 years ago with a second round showing in 1991. She was a semifinalist in 1996 and reached the second round again last year. "This is a very nice tournament," the Japanese veteran said. "Nice restaurants, shopping and weather - the air is a little dry but I always enjoy coming back here."

Only three players from Asia have ever been in the world's Top 10 before: Japan's Date-Krumm (career-high No.4), China's Li Na (career-high and current ranking No.7) and another Japanese, Ai Sugiyama (career-high No.8). Having lost her opening matches at Indian Wells and Miami last year, Li could better her ranking over the next four weeks with some deep Premier-level runs.

Next up for Date-Krumm is No.19 seed Ana Ivanovic. Ivanovic won their only previous meeting, in a long three-setter at Bali last November.

Other winners were Lucie Safarova, Anastasija Sevastova, Sara Errani, Timea Bacsinszky, Alla Kudryavtseva, Sybille Bammer, qualifiers Monica Niculescu and Alizé Cornet and wildcard Sania Mirza.

Safarova's 7-6(9) 6-7(5) 6-0 win over Kristina Barrois broke the record for most aces from a player in a match this year, as the Czech fired 18 of them.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Twelve IW qualifiers represent ten different countries.

Twelve women from 10 different countries earned their places in the WTA main draw at the 2011 BNP Paribas Open with wins in the final round of qualifying Tuesday at the Indian Wells tennis Garden.

Canadian Rebecca Marino recovered from a lackluster second set to defeat Czech Petra Cetkovska 6-3 1-6 6-2. The 20 year old, who reached her first tour-level final in Memphis last month, is making her BNP Paribas Open debut.

A pair of Spaniards and Romanians advanced. Laura Pous-Tio edged American wild card Madison Keys 6-3 7-6(2) and Nuria Llagostera Vives beat Ukrainian Olga Svachuk 6-2 2-6 6-3, while Sorana Cirstea rallied past Puerto Rican Monica Puig 3-6 6-4 6-1 and Monica Niculsecu dismissed German Kathrin Woerle 6-1 6-4.

Julie Hampton was the lone American woman to win through to the main draw, holding a 6-4 3-0 lead when Russian Ksenia Pervak retired from the match.

Other qualifiers include Czech Lucie Hradecka, France’s Alize Kornet, Austrian Tamira Paszek, China’s Shuai Zhang, Japan’s Misaki Doi and Belgian Kirsten Flipkens.

And now, who qualified and who they will play;

Jamie Hampton will play wild card Sloane Stephens in an all American show down!
Misaki Doi drew Anna Chakvetadze.
Rebecca Marino plays Ekaterina Makarova.
Laura Pous Tio go up against German Angelique Kerber.
Shuai Zhang comes up against Ayumi Morita.
Tamira Paszek plays veteran Anabel Medina Garrigues.
In a battle of two qualifiers Kirsten Flipkens plays Lucie Hradecka.
A resurgent Alize Cornet drew Patty Schnyder.
Romanina pair Monica Niculescu and Sorana Cirstea drew Anastasia Rodionova and Alla Kudryavtseva respectively.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Top 4 seeds advance in Indian Wells qualies, Sorana posts a win too!

The top four seeds in the WTA qualifying draw made their way safely through their first round matches Monday at the BNP Paribas Open.

Canada’s Rebecca Marino, who reached her first WTA final last month in Memphis, led the way with a 7-5 7-5 win over German Tatjana Malek. The 20 year old will face Petra Cetkovska for a place in the main draw after the Czech advanced with a 6-4 1-6 6-1 victory over France’s Virginie Razzano.

Romanian Monica Niculescu converted on seven of 13 break points to ease past Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko 6-2 6-3 in one hour and 14 minutes, earning a match-up with German Kathrin Woerle, a 7-5 6-4 winner over Austrian Patricia Mayr-Achleitner.

Alize Cornet of France was untroubled in a 6-3 6-1 win over China’s Xinyun Han, while compatriot Mathilde Johansson worked hard to overcome American wild card Krista Hardebeck 4-6 7-5 6-3.

Two Americans stayed in the running for one of 12 main draw berths. Wild card Madison Keys defeated Japan’s Junri Namigata 6-4 6-4 and Jamie Hampton rallied past Arantxa Rus of The Netherlands 3-6 7-6(5) 6-2.

In more exciting tennis news, Sorana Cirstea won her qualifying match against Sabine Lisicki! Sorana came back from a set down to pull of a 4-6 7-6(2) 6-2. I find it intresting these two young girls, who where in the top 30, not too long ago, and playing in grand slam quarterfinals just two years ago are now playing in the qualifying of Indian Wells. These talented two young players should be seeded in the top 20, anyway Sorana will play worlds-number-429 Monica Puig to get a berth in the main draw, how could she loose? Oh wait, its Sorana.

Other players advancing were; 11th seed Tamira Paszek, 10th seed Ksenia Pervak, 9th seed Laura Pous Tio, Anastasia Pivovarova, 19th seed Kirsten Flipkens and 7th seed Shuai Zhang.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Dokic comes back from the brink of defeat, takes Kuala Lumpur title!

She was twice just a forehand away from losing but Jelena Dokic showed her vintage fight in the final of the BMW Malaysian Open on Sunday night, winning her first WTA title in over eight and a half years with a come-from-behind 2-6 7-6(9) 6-4 victory over No.5 seed Lucie Safarova.

Over the last several years Dokic had shown glimpses of her former greatness, most memorably her run to the quarterfinals of the Australian Open in 2009. But it has been a while since those glimpses came in bunches, until now.

Having recently reached the quarterfinals of the Premier-level Open GDF SUEZ in Paris, where it took Kim Clijsters to stop her, Dokic's fire was still burning as she came to Kuala Lumpur. She rallied from a set and a break down to upset No.1 seed Francesca Schiavone in the first round then made it all the way to the final, where a No.5-seeded Safarova was awaiting, on fire herself.

Safarova had upset No.2 seed Marion Bartoli en route to the final and came out very strong indeed, going up 6-2 5-3 and even holding two match points in the second set tie-break, one at 6-5 and one at 8-7; she missed forehands on both of them, however, and eventually found herself in a third set. The Czech built another lead in the decider, 3-1, but Dokic fought back again, winning four of the next five games to lead 5-4 and completing the victory on her third match point, a huge service winner to complement her 13 aces during the match.
Dokic ended several dry periods: first WTA semifinal in seven years (Tokyo in February 2004) and first WTA final in eight years (Zürich in October 2003); her last WTA title came nine years ago (Birmingham in June 2002). The Aussie's win over No.5-ranked French Open winner Schiavone was also her first Top 5 win since that week in Zürich (a semifinal win over then-No.1 Kim Clijsters).

It was Dokic's sixth WTA title, her first five being Rome, Tokyo and Moscow in 2001 and Sarasota and Birmingham in 2002; she is now 6-7 in career finals. And her first title, with an Aussie flag next to her name!

Dokic is projected to return to the Top 60 with her results this week.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Safarova and Dokic to battle in Malaysian final.

Lucie Safarova and Jelena Dokic will meet for the BMW Malaysian Open title after winning their respective semifinals at the $220,000 International event on Saturday. Unseeded Dokic was first to advance with a one-sided defeat of Michaella Krajicek, 6-2 6-3, before No.5 seed Safarova prevented an all-Aussie final with a 6-2 3-6 6-3 win over fourth seed Jarmila Groth.

"I tried to really neutralize her serve and really move her around the court and dictate, because I don't think she likes that," said world No.91 Dokic, who hit 15 winners to Krajicek's seven, and made 16 unforced errors against 27 from the Dutchwoman. "I think I did it well."

Although Dokic got a stranglehold on the match with mirror-image breaks for 2-1 in both sets, 150th-ranked Krajicek did have a chance to stem the tide midway through the second set. However, when presented with her first break point at 3-2 the 22-year-old Dutchwoman failed to control a deep second serve by Dokic, who duly held for 4-2 and didn't look back.

"It's a good feeling to be in a final again," said 27-year-old Dokic, who is through to her first final since Zürich in 2003 and on Sunday will be gunning for her first title since Birmingham in 2002. "I was nearly out of this tournament near the beginning twice and fought my way back somehow.

"No matter what happens tomorrow, I've been playing better and better," she added. "Today I was very on top of things - I'm very happy with my form. It's been a great start to the year for me."

For Safarova, things were altogether more complicated, even though the 24-year-old appeared to be cruising after a dominant first set display.

But then Groth changed gears, bustling Safarova into error for an early break in the second set, and despite failing to convert two chances for another break to take the set at 5-2, calmly leveling proceedings in her next service game.

"Jarka really upped her game in the second set - she really pushed me," Safarova agreed. "The only way for me to get out of that was to try to overpower her more, and with that came some mistakes. But then I tried again to be more patient and wait for the opportunity - and it came."

Indeed, although Groth seemed to carry the momentum into the decider, breaking Safarova on a double fault for 3-2, Safarova broke right back for 3-3 and thereafter didn't lose another game. Having fended off two break points to hold for 4-3, she broke Groth again for 5-3; the Czech lefty faced another four break points when serving for the match, but was helped over the line by her opponent's errors.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Dokic advances to first tour semi since 2004!

Former world No.4 Jelena Dokic reached her first WTA semifinal in seven years when she beat eighth seed Bojana Jovanovski at the BMW Malaysian Open on Friday. Michaella Krajicek will be Dokic's opponent in the last four, with her fellow adopted Aussie, Jarmila Groth, set to take on Lucie Safarova.

Dokic was first to advance with an assured 7-6(4) 6-2 win over fast-rising Jovanovski, who served for the first set at 5-4 and 6-5, but never recovered the momentum once Dokic had pocketed the tie-break.

Dokic drifted away from the WTA Tour from 2004 to 2008 before becoming the first wildcard to reach a major quarter-final at the 2009 Australian Open in front of home fans.

"I played a couple of good games at the end of the first set, and she made a couple of errors," observed Dokic, who delivered seven aces on her way to victory. "The tie-break I think was crucial… I played a really good tie-break, and that was the key to the whole match.

"I've been getting better and better here with each match and I just want to carry my form into tomorrow," she added. "I seem to improve really quickly the more matches that I win - I gain confidence fast and that helps my game. "

While world No.91 Dokic will be playing her first semi since the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo in February 2004 - and gunning for her first final since Zürich in 2003 - 150th-ranked Krajicek also made an overdue breakthrough of her own against veteran qualifier Anne Kremer.

The former top-ranked junior and world No.30, who has three WTA singles titles to her name, advanced to her first semi in six years when she beat Kremer for the first time in three meetings, 6-2 6-3.

On the other side of the draw, Slovak-born Groth and Safarova will be meeting for the fourth time, with Groth holding a 2-1 head-to-head advantage.

On Friday, fourth-seeded Groth battled for 132 minutes - saving 15 of 20 break points faced - to get past No.6 seed Ayumi Morita, 7-5 3-6 7-5. Safarova, seeded No.5, had an easier time of things against second seed Marion Bartoli, who sent down eight double faults while also struggling to deal with the Czech lefty's serve. Although Safarova let a 5-1 second set lead close in to 5-4, she eventually served it out, 6-1 6-4.

Meantime, Safarova's second round victim here, Dinara Safina, advanced to the doubles final when she and wildcard partner Galina Voskoboeva beat Shuko Aoyama and Chan Chin-Wei, 7-5 6-4.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Jelena and Bojana set up QF in Malaysia

Bojana Jovanovski and Urszula Radwanska played for the first time in qualifying for last week's event in Doha. The Serb prevailed then in a nail-biter, 13-11, in a third set tie-break.

Just over a week later, the two were at it again, this time with a berth in the BMW Malaysian Open quarterfinals at stake. Once again, Jovanovski survived a thriller, 1-6 7-5 6-4, rallying from a 6-1 4-2 deficit.

"It was so hot today, and I didn't have too much time to prepare for these conditions," said the 19-year-old Jovanovski, who is the second-highest ranked teen in the world at No.55. "I came from Doha, where it wasn't nearly as hot and I played a long match today. So I'm very glad I won."

Jovanovski has only been in one previous quarterfinal, beating Flavia Pennetta in Sydney earlier this year en route to a semifinal showing, her career-best result. This time she will take on Jelena Dokic.

"I will try to be recovered and ready for that match," the eighth-seeded Jovanovski said. "I will try to serve better to get some easy points. Jelena is a good player. It will be an interesting match for sure."

As for Dokic, she followed up her first round upset of No.1 seed Francesca Schiavone with a 3-6 7-6(6) 6-2 defeat of Kurumi Nara. The Japanese served for the match at 6-5 in the second set and was two points from victory at 6-6 in the second set tie-break before Dokic took charge.

"I'd never played her before. I didn't know what to expect and how to play her," Dokic said. "She was really getting everything back. She didn't make one mistake until the third set. I knew if I won the second set I would have a chance in the third. I really fought to the end in that second set and it paid off."

Also advancing Wednesday were sixth-seeded Ayumi Morita and qualifier Anne Kremer. This is Morita's best showing since she was a semifinalist here last year and Kremer is into her first quarterfinal since Budapest in 2007.

"Today's match was my fifth match in five days, so I am quite exhausted, as it has been quite tough playing through the qualifiers," Kremer said. "I will rest for a day before my next match, so hopefully that will do me good."

No.2 seed Marion Bartoli and No.3 seed and defending champion Alisa Kleybanova will be among those in action Thursday as second round play wraps up.

Serena suffers blood clot in her lungs, undergoes emergency surgery, aims summer return.

Serena Williams has set her sights on a return to action by early summer after undergoing emergency surgery as a result of a blood clot in her lung earlier this week.

The 29-year-old admitted the last few days had been "extremely hard, scary, and disappointing" after it was confirmed she had received treatment on Monday for a haematoma, suffered as a result of a pulmonary embolism which was diagnosed last week.

"While I can't make any promises now on my return, I hope to be back by early summer. That said, my main goal is to make sure I get there safely," the former world number one said in a statement.

"Thank you everyone for all of your prayers, concerns, and support. This has been extremely hard, scary, and disappointing. I am doing better, I'm at home now and working with my doctors to keep everything under control. I know I will be okay but am praying and hoping this will all be behind me soon."

A separate statement released on Wednesday confirmed the 13-time grand slam title winner would spend the immediate future under close medical scrutiny.

"Serena did indeed suffer from a pulmonary embolism last week, and the haematoma was another unexpected scare that was subsequently removed. Thankfully everything was caught in time," the statement read.

"With continued doctor visits to monitor her situation, she is recuperating at home under strict medical supervision."

The Women's Tennis Association expressed relief that the worst appears to be over for Williams, saying in a statement: "We are very heartened to hear that despite the serious medical situation that she had to deal with, Serena is now recovering and on the road to full health and a possible return to professional tennis in early summer.

"Serena is a champion on and off the court, and we, along with her millions of fans around the world, wish her a speedy recovery."

Williams has been out of competitive action since winning Wimbledon in July. She subsequently cut her foot on some broken glass, an injury which has required two operations, but despite her lengthy absence, she is still ranked 11th in the world.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Date-Krumm sent packing in Kuala Lumpur.

A day after No.1 seed Francesca Schiavone was sent home from the BMW Malaysian Open, No.7 seed Kimiko Date-Krumm joined her on the sidelines, falling just short in a thriller between the two oldest players in the draw.

Thirty-five-year-old Anne Kremer, who was extended to three sets in her qualifying finale Monday, went the distance again, edging the 40-year-old Japanese, 4-6 6-2 7-6(5), in a battle featuring the sixth-greatest combined age on record for a WTA match. The third set was especially dramatic, with Kremer racing out to a 4-1 lead and then losing her serve at 5-4 despite having a match point. Kremer eventually fell behind, 5-6, 0-30, but rallied to force a tie-break, in which she prevailed for her first main draw victory since Caroline Wozniacki retired against her in the first round in Luxembourg in October 2009.

The other seeds in action Tuesday all advanced in straight sets, with fourth-seeded Jarmila Groth the only one to even lose more than two games. One of the dominant performances was executed by third-seeded Alisa Kleybanova, who is undefeated here, having won this event last year. She beat qualifier Lu Jing-Jing, 6-1 6-1. Second-seeded Marion Bartoli was in similar form, routing Maria Elena Camerin, 6-0 6-1.

"I'm really happy with the way I played," said Bartoli, who is now 4-1 all-time against the Italian. "I am so confident right now, as I've already made two semifinals and one quarterfinal this year. And if I didn't get injured at the Australian Open, I would have gone further. Tennis is a lot about confidence, and on the court it is showing right now that I'm really in control and I'm not nervous, so I can really play freely and do what I need to do."

In a match involving unseeded players, Dinara Safina, seeking to put an injury-plagued 2010 behind her, got her first win since last September in Seoul, 6-2 6-0, over Han Xinyun. The former No.1, whose ranking has sunk to No.113, will play Lucie Safarova in an intruiging second round clash.

Schiavone's conqueror, Jelena Dokic, is among those in action on Wednesday, as she will take on Kurumi Nara. Also, Kremer will square off with Noppawan Lertcheewakarn.