Archive for October, 2011

30
Oct
11

Petra Kvitova clinched the WTA Championships with a 7-5 4-6 6-3 victory over Victoria Azarenka in Istanbul.

Petra Kvitova

Kvitova swept into a 5-0 lead but a resurgent Azarenka forced her to dig deep to earn the opener before winning the tussle for the second set. But Kvitova recovered from 0-40 adrift in the first game of the decider, broke in the next and did not look back. The victory moves the Czech ahead of Maria Sharapova to second in the world. “When I started this season we didn’t have a goal,” Kvitova said after her win. “We just wanted to improve my game and now I am number two and Wimbledon champion. It is just a dream.” The 21-year-old will also take home $1.75m (£1.1m) in prize money after rounding off an excellent season with a clean sweep of her round-robin matches en route to the final. It is her sixth title of the season, equalling the haul of Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki – the one woman ahead of her in the rankings.

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30
Oct
11

Tsonga defeats del Potro in Vienna and helps his chances of qualifying for London.

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Jo-Wilfried Tsonga took a giant step towards cementing his place at the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals after coming from behind to beat Juan Martin Del Potro in the final of the Erste Bank Open in Vienna. Top seed Tsonga found himself a set and a break down but rallied to record a 6-7 (5/7) 6-3 6-4 triumph on Sunday. The victory, Tsonga’s second of the season and seventh overall, lifts the Frenchman up to seventh in the world rankings with the world’s top eight qualifying for the ATP finals in London. Former US Open champion Del Potro, who is now 9-4 in career finals, is still waiting for his first victory at an indoor event. Del Potro looked to be in control of the match after winning the opening set on a tie-break and breaking for a 2-1 lead in the second, but Tsonga reeled off four straight games on his way to levelling the contest. In the final set, Tsonga stepped up on serve, firing nine of his 25 aces to win 80 per cent of his service points. He broke his Argentinian opponent in the seventh game and closed out the match with a love service game. “That was really tough,” said Tsonga. “Juan Martin played very well. “I lost a little motivation after losing the first set but fortunately I got it back quickly.”

29
Oct
11

Petra Kvitova will face Victoria Azarenka in the final of the WTA Championships.

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Petra Kvitova came through a tough match against Samantha Stosur to set up a meeting with Victoria Azarenka in the final of the WTA Championships. Wimbledon champion Kvitova, who is making her debut at the end-of-season event, came from a set and a break down in Istanbul to see off her Australian opponent 5-7 6-3 6-3 in just over two hours. The world number three broke Stosur five times in total, but almost threw it away in the final set when she let slip a 5-0 lead before hanging on for the win. “It was getting very tough at the end,” Kvitova said on http://www.wtatennis.com. “I had 5-0 and then she was playing very fast, hitting many winners. “It was getting tough to concentrate on my service games. You never know what will happen when you play top players. But I served great the last game.” Kvitova will now take on world number four Azarenka in the final.

The Belarusian had an easier time of things in her semi-final against Vera Zvonareva, beating the Russian 6-2 6-3. Azarenka broke her opponent three times in the opening set and twice more in the second to wrap up the win in one hour and 42 minutes.

27
Oct
11

Victoria Azarenka and Petra Kvitova both reached the semi-finals of the WTA Championships.

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Azarenka – the fourth seed at the eight-woman, season-ending tournament in Istanbul – was totally dominant on serve as she swept aside French Open champion Li Na 6-4 6-2 in one hour and 32 minutes. The Belarusian, who also dropped just four games during her win over US Open champion Sam Stosur the previous day, is now guaranteed a place in the last four with one White Group match still to play. Li and Stosur meet on Friday with the winner joining Azarenka in advancing to the semi-finals. Top seed Caroline Wozniacki’s destiny is out of her hands after she was beaten 6-4 6-2 by Wimbledon champion Kvitova. Kvitova dominated proceedings, hitting 36 winners compared to six from her opponent and never looked back after an early break in the opening set. Wozniacki needed to have her blood pressure checked after the first set but was able to carry on. But there was no stopping Kvitova – making her debut at the event this year – as the Czech left-hander broke twice more on the way to closing out her second victory in a row.

Wozniacki, who beat Agnieszka Radwanska and lost to Vera Zvonareva earlier in the round-robin, has now finished her Red Group campaign. The Dane, guaranteed to end the year as world number one after Maria Sharapova’s withdrawal, still has an outside chance of making the semi-finals if Radwasnka loses to Kvitova in the final Red Group fixture on Friday. Poland’s Radwanska, the eighth seed, beat Zvonareva 1-6 6-2 7-5 in Thursday’s third encounter – a result that eliminates the sixth-seeded Russian. Radwanska trailed 5-3 in the decider and saved three match points on the way to completing an epic triumph. She will make the last four with victory over Kvitova, who is already guaranteed top spot in the Red Group.

 

 

26
Oct
11

Maria Sharapova has pulled out of the WTA Tour Championships.

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The Russian was beaten by China’s Na Li 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 in her second White Group match to leave her with little hope of qualifying for the semi-finals. Afterwards it was announced that she was withdrawing from the rest of the event due to an ankle injury that has troubled her in recent weeks. “The ankle didn’t recover as well as I had hoped after my first match,” she said. “It limits my movement a lot and it’s not something I really want to risk. “I tried to push it as much as I could but I think it was a little too soon.” The 24-year-old had led 4-1 at one stage in the opening set and then also took the first four points in the tie break, only to then subside in a hurry. Li surged 5-2 ahead in the second before she suffered an attack of the jitters, losing the next two games to leave her just one clear. The French Open champion then slipped 15-40 behind in her next service game before regaining her composure, claiming victory at the first attempt when her opponent hammered a backhand return far too long. Sharapova’s early exit means that Caroline Wozniacki is now certain to finish 2011 as world number one. However, the Dane was unable to celebrate with a victory in her match, going down 6-2 4-6 6-3 against Vera Zvonareva to leave the Red Group wide open. Samantha Stosur, who had beaten Sharapova on the opening day of action in Istanbul, also lost on Wednesday. The Australian was simply unable to hit the same heights as she had managed 24 hours earlier, going down 6-2 6-2 to Victoria Azarenka. However, the reigning US Open champion could still qualify for the knockout stages, provided she gets the better of fellow grand slam winner Li in her last round-robin match. “It was a quick turnaround, but I felt like I was ready to go,” said Stosur afterwards. “It just wasn’t fast or crisp enough. I felt like I got pushed around the court.” Azarenka, the fourth seed, broke four times to win in one hour and 18 minutes and take her career head-to-head record against Stosur to 5-0. She next faces Wozniacki in a crucial match for both players, on Thursday.

 

 

26
Oct
11

Eight ladies head to Bali for the year ending tournament.

Marion Bartoli

The line-up for the Commonwealth Bank Tournament of Champions has been finalised. The event takes place in Bali, Indonesia, during 3-6 November. Ana Ivanovic is the defending champion. She is one of two wild card entrants into the event – the other being China’s Shuai Peng. The six women that gained entry by virtue of being the highest ranked players to have won International Series tournaments this year are Marion Bartoli, Sabine Lisicki, Roberta Vinci, Daniela Hantuchova, Anabel Medina Garrigues and Nadia Petrova. Ana won’t be seeded, thus she will face Bartoli, Lisicki, Vinci or Hantuchova in the opening round of the knock-out event.

“We are delighted to have such a strong player field in what will be the final year of operating the Tournament of Champions in Bali. We look forward to welcoming them and I know that everyone in Bali is looking forward to an exciting event,” said Kevin Livesey, tournament director of the Commonwealth Bank Tournament of Champions.

25
Oct
11

Stosur finally defeats Sharapova to move towards Saurday’s semis.

Samantha Stosur ended a career-long nine-match losing streak against Maria Sharapova with a 6-1 7-5 victory in their opening round robin match at the season-ending WTA Championships in Istanbul. US Open champion Stosur’s win over the Russian puts her on track to reach Saturday’s semi-finals of the elite eight-woman competition. Since their first encounter in 2004, the Australian has spent seven years trying to solve the problem of Maria before finally breaking through on the opening night of the $A4.8m championships. Not that the job gets much easier for Stosur, she takes on a fresh Victoria Azarenka on Wednesday night. Stosur has lost all four of her previous meetings with Azarenka but should fancy her chances based on Tuesday’s showing at the Sinan Erdem Arena. The Queenslander received a warm reception on entering the court but it was nothing compared to the love shown for the Russian whose fiance Sasha Vujacic plays basketball in Turkey. The Australian imposed her will on the contest early and romped through the first set in less than half an hour. In her first match since injuring her ankle a month ago, Sharapova started to find her game in the second set and broke Stosur’s serve. After Sharapova raced to a 3-0 lead in the second set, Stosur clawed her way back and cracked the Russian’s serve for a 6-5 lead. The Australian showed plenty of nerve serving for the match as she saved three break points before securing the win with an errant shot from Sharapova. Stosur has regularly had problems against taller players such as Sharapova and Venus Williams with the heavy top-spin from her ground strokes making the ball lift up invitingly into their hitting zones. However she showed tactical nous to move Sharapova around and frustrate her by mixing up her shots with plenty of slice. Li Na is the other player in Stosur’s half of the draw with the top two players from each group progressing to Saturday’s semi-finals.

 

25
Oct
11

Kvitova & Wozniacki advance in Istanbul.

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Caroline Wozniacki came from a set down to win a battle of attrition with Agnieszka Radwanska in her Red Group opener at the WTA Championships in Istanbul. Wozniacki dropped the first set 7-5 against eighth seed Radwanska but recovered to win the next two 6-2 6-4 in a match lasting two hours and 39 minutes. Radwanska converted her only two break points to steal the opening set before Wozniacki responded strongly. The Dane, who has spent the last 55 weeks at the top of the rankings but has yet to win a grand slam, claimed four of the six breaks in the second set to square it up at one apiece. And, despite Radwanska recovering from an early deficit in the decider to level at 4-4, Wozniacki responded with an immediate break and then served out for victory. Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova had earlier enjoyed a a winning debut at the eight-woman, season-ending tournament with a 6-2 6-4 victory over Russia’s Vera Zvonareva in the Red Group. The Czech left-hander had little difficulty seeing off the sixth seed despite a second-set wobble. Zvonareva rallied from 1-4 down in the second set to break the Kvitova serve twice and level at 4-4, only to surrender her own serve again immediately. Third seed Kvitova made no mistake as she served for the match, putting away a volley on a her first match point.

 

 

25
Oct
11

The famous boyfriends are attracting as much attention as the top players.

Golden couple: Caroline Wozniacki (centre) and Rory McIlroy (right) in Turkey

Maria Sharapova had Serbian basketball star Sasha Vujacic in her entourage ahead of Tuesday’s start while Caroline Wozniacki was snatching the last of a few precious days together with Rory McIlroy. McIroy had stopped by as part of his highly lucrative, late season globetrotting, which took him away to Shanghai on Sunday night, making the time to watch his his partner’s early morning practice session. Before departing he politely declined to discuss the recent upheavals in his management situation, and now leaves behind Wozniacki to pursue her goal of securing the year-end No 1 spot for the second year in a row. No such need for New Jersey Nets star Vujacic to venture far. Faced with a lockout over money in the NBA, he is plying his trade conveniently with an Istanbul team to keep himself busy, so is very much local to the week’s action. His biggest concern is a finger he broke while in action on Sunday. As the tournament is taking place in his temporary home stadium of the Sinan Erdem Dome he has little excuse not to watch his other half, who still has a chance to finish the year in the top spot.

Whoever triumphs, it is near impossible to define who is truly the best player in the world because of the starkly unpredictable and fluctuating state of the women’s game in 2011. Three of the biggest and best names in the sport – Kim Clijsters, Serena and Venus Williams – have not qualified because they simply have not been fit enough to play sufficient tournaments. And all four Grand Slam winners – Clijsters, Li Na, Petra Kvitova and Samantha Stosur – have been desperately inconsistent, although the last three have put enough points on the board to get into the top eight and compete this week for £3.1million of prize money.

 

 

 

24
Oct
11

Top 8 ladies converge on devastated Turkey for final tourney.

TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships

The eight competitors at the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships were split into their two round robin groups at the official draw ceremony Sunday night, with play set to begin at the $4.9-million year-end finale on Tuesday. Women’s Tennis Association officials briefed the eight players on the quake. The season-ending tournament runs from Tuesday to Sunday at Sinan Erdem Arena. Second-ranked Maria Sharapova said she received many phone calls and e-mails expressing concern. “I think it gives us an opportunity to sit down and say, ‘We’re very, very lucky and fortunate to be doing what we’re doing,”’ Sharapova said. “These things that happen around the world, you just never know where it can happen. I mean, this was only a few hours from here.” Top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki arrived in Istanbul on Thursday and wanted to pass along condolences on behalf of all the players. “All our thoughts are with everyone affected, and of course it’s never nice when something like this happens,” said Wozniacki, whose profile in Turkey has risen since she signed a commercial deal with a Turkish airline last year. “I definitely got a few messages yesterday and just asking if everything was OK, and if we’re all OK here.” At the draw ceremony Sunday, CEO Stacey Allaster said: “We will do whatever we can to support the people of Turkey in some small way through the power of sport.”

 




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