Serena slams Hsieh to march into third round

admin   •   January 21, 2016   •   2311

Serena Williams of the U.S. serves during her second round match against Taiwan's Hsieh Su-wei at the Australian Open tennis tournament at Melbourne Park, Australia, January 20, 2016. REUTERS/Jason O'Brien

Serena Williams of the U.S. serves during her second round match against Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei at the Australian Open tennis tournament at Melbourne Park, Australia, January 20, 2016. REUTERS/Jason O’Brien

Defending champion Serena Williams ramped up her bid for a 22nd grand slam title with a dominant 6-1 6-2 win over unseeded Taiwanese Hsieh Su-wei to charge into the Australian Open third round on Wednesday.

The top seed had to survive a tough opening match against Italian Camila Giorgi but destroyed the 90th-ranked Hsieh in exactly one hour in glorious sunshine at Rod Laver Arena.

Hsieh, a two-time grand slam doubles champion, prised three break points but the American saved them all and closed out the match with her seventh ace.

“I think I was really focused and that first round really helped me because I was really just fighting,” world number one Williams told reporters after setting up a third-round clash against 18-year-old Russian Daria Kasatkina.

“I really gave a big effort there. Today again, I just wanted to stay focused for the whole time.

“I don’t think I made that many errors today. Something I was hopefully trying to get back into. And I moved much better today, so slowly but surely, feeling a little bit better.”

Williams pulled out of the lead-up Hopman Cup midway through her first match with knee trouble but looked untroubled as she burned around the court to fire 26 winners past the Taiwanese.

She was particularly pleased with her scramble for a winner around the net, which she thought was the first of her career, but poured cold water on the idea of pulling off a between-the-legs trick shot in subsequent matches.

“It’s always cool to do something fresh and new,” she said.

“I don’t do (‘tweeners). I’m not good at those. I did when I was younger, and I was terrible at it. I know what I’m good at, and I know things I’m not going to excel at. I’m definitely not going to excel at that shot.”

(Editing by John O’Brien)

Kerber stuns Williams to win Wimbledon title

UNTV News   •   July 15, 2018

Tennis – Wimbledon – All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain – July 14, 2018 Germany’s Angelique Kerber holds the trophy after winning the women’s singles final against Serena Williams of the U.S. REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) – It was supposed to be the day Serena Williams completed a remarkable comeback and claimed a record-matching 24th Grand Slam title but Angelique Kerber ripped up the script to outclass her 6-3 6-3 in Saturday’s Wimbledon final.

Ten months after the difficult birth of daughter Alexis Olympia the 36-year-old Williams had powered into her 10th Wimbledon final and looked poised for an eighth crown.

But even for the most prolific title collector in the professional era it proved a step too far as Kerber took full advantage of an error-strewn display by the American.

Kerber broke the mighty Williams serve three times in the opening set and again in the sixth game of the second and held her nerve to become the first German woman to win the title since Steffi Graf in 1996.

With compatriot Meghan Markle, whose marriage to Britain’s Prince Harry Serena attended this year, watching from the Royal Box the stage seemed set for another memorable day in the fairytale career of Williams.

She was bidding to become only the fourth mum to win a Grand Slam title in the professional era and the first at Wimbledon since Evonne Goolagong beat Chris Evert in 1980.

Her 10th Wimbledon final ended in disappointment though.

When a Williams backhand hit the net the 30-year-old Kerber, who has now won three Grand Slams, collapsed on the dusty baseline before running to the net for a warm embrace with Williams who she lost to in the 2016 Wimbledon final.

“It’s a dream come true, Serena you are a great person and champion, such an inspiration for everyone watching,” Kerber said on Centre Court.

“I’m sure you’ll win your next Grand Slam soon so congratulations for coming back.”

Williams was close to tears as the crowd applauded her remarkable efforts.

“To all the mums out there, I was playing for you today, and I tried but Angelique played really well, she played out of her mind,” Williams, playing only her fourth tournament since returning to the Tour, said.

MEN’S SEMI
The first women’s final between two players in their 30s since 1977 missed its traditional 2pm start time because the men’s singles semi-final between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal had run over from the night before.

While that was a classic, the women’s showpiece fell flat as Williams coughed up 24 unforced errors.

The powerful American had been on a 20-match winning roll at Wimbledon, a sequence that started in 2015, and had picked up speed round by round in the past fortnight.

She had dropped just one set en route to the final, as had Kerber, but had not faced anyone with the pedigree of the German who had experienced a Grand Slam final victory over the American, at the 2016 Australian Open.

Left-hander Kerber displayed her rock-solid defense to break Williams in the opening game — repelling a fierce baseline onslaught to induce an error at the end of a 18-stroke rally.

Williams broke back but consecutive double-faults undermined her at 3-3 and she then struck a forehand long to hand the initiative to her opponent who quickly held for 5-3.

Kerber’s clever ball-placement kept extending the rallies and the rustiness in the Williams game was apparent as she smacked the net with a backhand on set point.

The expected backlash did not materialize even if Williams raised the intensity and decibel level.

Williams sensed a chance at 1-1 but with Kerber at 15-30 she made a dreadful hash of putting away an easy volley off a poor Kerber lob and Kerber was steadfast to keep ahead.

Serving at 2-3 15-30 Williams popped up a half volley and Kerber rammed a winner past her and the 11th-seeded German repeated the trick with another sweet forehand to lead 4-2.

Kerber looked understandably jittery at 5-3, a couple of second serves barely scraping over. But she brought up the one match point she required with a forehand bang on the baseline.

Williams then netted and will have to wait a while longer to match Margaret Court’s Grand Sam haul.

Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Clare Fallon and Ed Osmond

Easy for Djokovic and Nadal, Murray suffers, Kerber out

admin   •   May 25, 2016

Tuesday, May 24, 2016 Tennis - French Open - Roland Garros - Rafael Nadal of Spain vs Sam Groth of Australia - Paris, France - 24/05/16. Rafael Nadal of Spain in action. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros – Rafael Nadal of Spain vs Sam Groth of Australia – Paris, France – 24/05/16. Rafael Nadal of Spain in action. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams barely got their shoes dusty at the French Open on Tuesday but two of the top five women’s seeds went out and Andy Murray survived the first round by the skin of his teeth.

World number one Djokovic, back on the Philippe Chatrier Court where Stan Wawrinka snatched the title from his grasp a year ago when a career slam loomed, crushed Taiwan’s Lu Yen-hsun 6-4 6-1 6-1.

Nadal found big-serving Australian Sam Groth even more compliant as the Spaniard began his tilt at a 10th Roland Garros title with a 6-1 6-1 6-1 victory.

Reigning champion and top seed Williams completed the Chatrier program by polishing off Slovakia’s Magdalena Rybarikova 6-2 6-0.

Predictable day three most definitely was not, though.

Germany’s Angelique Kerber, who four months ago downed Williams to win the Australian Open, was sent tumbling out by flying Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens who won 6-2 3-6 6-3.

Third seed Kerber was troubled by a shoulder injury while later fifth seed Victoria Azarenka, the former world number one, hobbled out with a knee injury against Italy’s Karin Knapp when she trailed 4-0 in the deciding set.

The women’s draw has now lost three of the top seven seeds after Italian Robert Vinci’s demise on Monday.

“First rounds are always tough in the tournament, especially for me. What can I say? It happens,” Kerber told reporters.

It rarely happens to the leading men though.

Djokovic has not exited a slam in the first round since the 2006 Australian Open and a repeat never looked possible as he began a familiar quest for the one major title to elude him.

“It’s not the first time that I’m experiencing such anticipation and expectations,” Djokovic said.

“Whether or not I’m going to have a chance to fight for a trophy that’s in Almighty’s hands, I can’t influence that, but I can certainly give my best.”

Nadal’s only taste of a round-one defeat came at Wimbledon three years ago and there was never any chance of another meltdown as he leaked just three unforced errors.

World number two Murray is equally reliable — his last first-round exit coming at the 2008 Australian Open.

SEVERE PERIL

That record looked in severe peril on Tuesday, however, as he became embroiled in an engrossing battle of wits with Czech qualifier Radek Stepanek, at 37 the oldest man in the draw.

Murray, 29, had partially dug himself out of a deep hole on Monday night when he lost the first two sets to an inspired opponent before winning the third and taking a 4-2 lead in the fourth when bad light intervened.

Despite the precarious nature of his position, most expected Murray to overwhelm Stepanek when play resumed.

Having levelled it up, however, Stepanek rediscovered the unorthodox wizardry that so flummoxed Murray on Monday and came within two points of becoming the oldest man since Jimmy Connors (aged 38) in 1991 to win a round at the French Open.

Murray was staring down the barrel at 4-5, 15-30 in the decider but a sweetly-struck Stepanek backhand was millimetres too low and his chance was gone.

The nerves jangled when Murray double-faulted on his first match point and his relief was obvious when Stepanek netted a volley. “Today was pretty stressful,” he said.

“It is unbelievable what he is doing. He had a bad injury last year yet at 37 is still coming out and fighting like that.”

There were mixed fortunes for two former women’s champions.

Italian veteran Francesca Schiavone, who lifted the Suzanne Lenglen Cup in 2010, was bundled out in the first round by French hope Kristina Mladenovic but 14th seed Ana Ivanovic, champion in 2008, beat France’s Oceane Dodin 6-0 5-7 6-2.

Sixth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga led a quintet of Frenchmen into the second round, while other seeds to advance included Austrian dark horse Dominic Thiem, American John Isner, Czech Tomas Berdych and 2013 runner-up David Ferrer.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Julien Pretot)

Serena maintains hex on Sharapova to reach semis

admin   •   January 26, 2016

Russia's Maria Sharapova reacts during her quarter-final match against Serena Williams of the U.S. at the Australian Open tennis tournament at Melbourne Park, Australia, January 26, 2016. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Russia’s Maria Sharapova reacts during her quarter-final match against Serena Williams of the U.S. at the Australian Open tennis tournament at Melbourne Park, Australia, January 26, 2016. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Reigning champion Serena Williams ramped up the power in the second set to vanquish fifth seed Maria Sharapova for the 18th match in a row and reach the semi-finals of the Australian Open with a 6-4 6-1 victory on Tuesday.

Sharapova broke the world number one in the first game and mounted a stiff challenge in the opening set but wilted in the second to extend a losing record that goes back 12 years.

Williams said the Russian brings out the best in her.

“When I play her, I know automatically I have to step up my game,” Williams said. “I think that makes me play better. When I’m forced to play better, I do well.”

The gulf between Williams and Sharapova, a former number one and five-times grand slam champion, speaks volumes about the balance of power in the women’s game.

Williams has reached the last four at Melbourne Park on six previous occasions and gone on to win the title every time.

On Tuesday’s evidence, it looks like only illness or injury can prevent the 34-year-old from repeating the feat and adding a 22nd major title to her collection.

The American, who came into the tournament after a four-month layoff, twice had treatment for “food poisoning issues” during breaks in the 92-minute rematch of last year’s final.

Sharapova handed back her early break with two double faults in game four but started the match well and offered a genuine test in the 55-minute opening stanza.

The Russian showed character to storm back from 0-40 down to hold serve for 4-4 and was all over Williams’s serve in the next game, the American yelling “C’mon!” on successive points as she finally held.

The match turned on the next game when Sharapova fended off three set points despite failing to get her first serve in before Williams converted the fourth after a long rally with a volley at the net.

Sharapova had fired 21 aces in her fourth round match but managed just seven against Williams.

“I think if you’re serving maybe 180 (kph) against somebody else compared to Serena, that’s an ace,” said the 28-year-old.

“Against Serena, as we all know, the return is one of her great strengths. She’s very explosive. She stays quite close to the baseline.

“She cuts the ball early. She doesn’t give you many angles.”

Williams has an 8-0 record against her semi-final opponent Agnieszka Radwanska, who as the fourth seed is the highest ranked challenger remaining in the draw.

“Nothing’s guaranteed in sports,” said Williams. “I still have to win two matches against potentially two extremely tough opponents.”

(Editing by John O’Brien/Peter Rutherford)

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