Archive for March, 2012

31
Mar
12

Agnieszka Radwanska claimed her second title of the season with a 7-5 6-4 victory over Maria Sharapova.

Agnieszka Radwanska

Radwanska, the fifth seed, needed one hour and 44 minutes to seal her triumph. The Pole, who also took the title in Dubai earlier in 2012, will now move up to a career-high position of four in the world rankings. It was a victory Radwanska founded on her own serve. Second seed Sharapova, who has now lost all four of her final appearances at the Miami event, failed to break once in the match. Radwanska was content to keep the ball in play and wait for Sharapova to make the first mistake. It proved a shrewd tactic as the Russian committed 45 unforced errors in all. “I got a lot of good wins this year against top players,” said Radwanska, who is now 26-4 for the year, all four defeats coming against world number one Victoria Azarenka. “I was trying from the beginning to focus on my serve, put my first serve in and go for it. “I think I did a really good job today and the serve was the key.”

The first set was heading to a tie-break when Sharapova, down 6-5, suddenly lost her previously solid service game. Sharapova produced two loose shots and then a volley into the net to leave her trailing 0-40 and although Radwanska wobbled with two tame returns into the net, Sharapova failed to clear the net herself to hand her opponent the set. And the second set followed a similar pattern – both players solid on serve but Radwanska coming out on top when it mattered. Radwanska fought back from 0-30 down to go 6-5 up and force Sharapova to hold serve to stay in the match. The Russian looked agitated and was let down by some reckless strokes, twice going long on returns, as Radwanska lured her into defeat.

 

 

31
Mar
12

Novak Djokovic claimed a 6-0 7-6 (7/5) win over Argentina’s Juan Monaco to book his place in the Sony Ericsson Open final against Andy Murray.

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In contrast to Murray, who advanced without playing a shot as Rafael Nadal withdrew through injury, what looked like being a simple outing for Djokovic turned into something more taxing as Monaco battled back in the second set. The first set could barely have been simpler for Djokovic as he dropped only eight points. And though Monaco upped his game in the second set, making life uncomfortable for the top seed, Djokovic seemed to be on his way to a straightforward win as he served for the match at 5-4. But, just as David Ferrer did, Monaco broke back and took the set into a tie-break. It only delayed the inevitable, though, as the defending champion sealed his progress on his second match point. “As I did yesterday in the quarter-finals, I started very strong, just going for the shots, being very aggressive,” Djokovic told the ATP Tour website. “Then I just wasn’t able to close it out. “It was a very similar match to the one against Ferrer. “It was [an] exciting match I think for us to play and for the crowd. I didn’t expect an easy match and [I’m] just happy to be through.”

Nadal, meanwhile, revealed he pulled out of his semi-final against Murray because he did not want to “lie to everybody”. The world number two fell foul of his long-suffering knees in Miami, this time his left one, handing Murray a free pass. Nadal still opted to face the media, though, and admitted he made the decision, albeit just two hours prior to the start of the match, in the interests of honesty. “I waited until today in the morning. I did a lot of treatment yesterday,” he told www.atpworldtour.com. “But I am not ready to compete today. I am very sorry for the fans. I’m very sorry for the tournament. I’m very sorry for everybody who was ready to watch the match on television. I cannot go on court and lie to everybody.” Murray was disappointed not to be able to put his game plan, worked out with coach Ivan Lendl, to the test. “Every time you play against one of the top guys in the world, it’s always a good opportunity to see where your game’s at,” he was quoted as saying on telegraph.co.uk. “I have been working with Ivan now for a couple of months, on certain tactics that would work against Rafa, Novak and Roger [Federer]. “It would have been nice to see whether or not those things were working.”

Murray will get the chance to try out some of those tactics as he faces Djokovic for the third time this season in Sunday’s final. Djokovic beat the Scot in five sets in the Australian Open semi-final on his way to claiming the Melbourne crown, but Murray got some revenge at the same stage in Dubai.

30
Mar
12

Saharapova v. Radwanska will be evenly matched in the Sony Ericsson Final.

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Maria Sharapova booked her place in the final of the women’s event with a 4-6 6-2 6-4 victory in a topsy-turvy match against fourth seed Caroline Wozniacki. Sharapova raced into a 4-1 lead, before Wozniacki rallied to win five games in a row, taking the first set. The second was more one-sided, and the Russian edged the third to advance in two hours and 34 minutes. Sharapova told http://www.sonyericssonopen.com: “I’m really pleased that after losing that first one, being up and playing really well and then backing off and her stepping up, I could have easily just [have gone] down in the second set. “But I really stepped it up again. I went out there and started being aggressive. I didn’t stop after I put myself in a good position. I’m extremely pleased that I pulled it out today.”

Sharapova will face fifth seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the final after the Pole beat Marion Bartoli 6-4 6-2 in the second semi on Thursday. French seventh seed Bartoli could not repeat the heroics of her semi-final victory over world number one Victoria Azarenka, whose 26-match winning run she ended on Wednesday.

29
Mar
12

Victoria Azarenka’s winning start to the year finally came to an end as she was beaten 6-3 6-3 by Marion Bartoli.

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Bartoli was on top for nearly the whole match, but Azarenka had a chance to assert herself when she led 3-1 in the second set. That was as good as it got for her though and, with her early-season exertions perhaps catching up with her, she surrendered five games in a row, losing 14 of the last 16 games. It meant Azarenka’s winning run was snapped at 26 matches, but she told the tournament’s official website: “What I’ve done in the last couple of months, I have to be really proud of myself. “I could have maybe played better today, that’s for sure, but I gave it all I had. But Marion played really well today, and she deserves the win.”

Venus Williams’ revival came to a crashing halt at the hands of Polish fifth seed Agnieszka Radwanska, who needed just 80 minutes to polish off the American 6-4 6-1. Williams had no answer to her younger, in-form opponent who broke her three times in the opening set and proved even more dominant in the next, blazing into a last-four showdown with Bartoli.

28
Mar
12

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic both moved into the quarter-finals in Miami on Tuesday.

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Nadal was given a tough workout by Kei Nishikori before reaching the last eight of the Sony Ericsson Open, while Djokovic was also tested before seeing off a determined Richard Gasquet. World number two Nadal eventually secured a 6-4 6-4 win, although he lost his serve in both sets. Nadal was forced to call upon his renowned battling qualities before moving into the last eight of a tournament he has never won, despite three final appearances. The Spaniard took more than an hour to win a closely-contested opening set, one in which he took a medical time-out for treatment on his left knee. However, when he resumed, Nadal claimed the set when Nishikori hit a wild forehand out. Nadal soon got in front in the second set and he served for the match at 5-3 only to lose his delivery. However, he simply broke his Japanese foe in the very next game to complete victory and set up a quarter-final tie with either Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or Florian Mayer. “At the end of the first set, I felt that I started to win my serves easier than him,” Nadal said after the match. “I had more the control of the game.” Speaking about his injury, Nadal admitted: “I am not probably in perfect condition today with the left knee. “But the important thing is to try to win as many matches as possible. For me this is an important tournament, and every victory has very, very big value for me, especially without being perfect.”

Djokovic later joined him in the quarter-finals by fending off the dangerous Gasquet, winning 7-5 6-3. The Frenchman had break point to leave himself serving for the first set but missed his opportunity and Djokovic reeled off the last three games to clinch it. A solitary break of Gasquet’s serve proved enough for the defending champion in the second set. He’ll now meet David Ferrer, who disposed of Juan Martin Del Potro 6-3 6-3.

Andy Roddick crashed down to earth following his victory over Roger Federer as he lost 7-5 6-0 to 21st seed Juan Monaco. Meanwhile Jo-Wilfried Tsonga saw off Florian Mayer 6-3 6-2. Janko Tipsarevic beat Grigor Dimitrov 7-6 (7/3) 6-2 and the Serbian will meet Andy Murray next. American number one Mardy Fish saw off Nicolas Almagro in a tight tussle that went to three sets. Fish, seeded eighth, hit 16 aces and lost just two points behind his first serve as he eventually prevailed 6-3 6-7(2/7) 6-3.

27
Mar
12

The too long absent Williams sisters are making the 2012 Sony Ericsson much more interesting.

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Top-ranked Victoria Azarenka lost 10 of the first 11 games, then rallied to remain unbeaten this year by overcoming Dominika Cibulkova 1-6, 7-6 (7), 7-5 Monday in the fourth round of the Sony Ericsson Open. Azarenka won her 26th consecutive match, a streak that began at the start of this year. Her start is the best on the women’s tour since Martina Hingis went 37-0 to begin 1997. In the second set, Azarenka fell behind 4-love. She found herself two points from defeat five times but swept the last three games and converted the first match point when Cibulkova sailed a passing shot long. Azarenka has won her four previous tournaments this year, including the Australian Open for her first Grand Slam title. She seeks her third Key Biscayne title.

Serena Williams matched a career high with 20 aces to beat Samantha Stosur 7-5, 6-3 and advance to the quarterfinals. “My serve was hot,” Williams said. “I was like, `That’s pretty cool.”’ Williams avenged a loss to Stosur when they last met in the U.S. Open final in September. “That wasn’t in my mind,” Williams said. “I just thought, `This is a new game.”’

Venus Williams rallied from a set down to defeat Ana Ivanovic, 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-2, and roar into the Sony Ericsson Open quarterfinals for the 10th time.

27
Mar
12

Andy Roddick produced the shock of the Sony Ericsson Open by knocking Roger Federer out with a 7-6 (7-4) 1-6 6-4 win.

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It was just Roddick’s third win in 24 career meetings against Federer and it ended the Swiss’ run of 16 straight victories. The win was all the more remarkable given Federer seemed to have found his best form in the second set after losing a first-set tie-break. He broke Roddick three times in the second and was on course to do so again in the start of the fourth, but the American saved four break points before going on to take the set. And Roddick admitted: “The game that I played for the break in the third set was one of the best return games I’ve ever played. I think I hit four forehand winners. “I played well tonight and served really well there at the end.”

Federer, though, believes his recent run of matches have taken their toll on him. “I came out a bit flat today, I was a bit tired, I guess, but it was more mental than physical,” Federer said. “That’s maybe 30 matches for the season. I am just feeling like it’s taken its toll a bit, which is normal. “But I’ve played more tired in the past, so this was not the most tired I have ever been, but you just start to feel it a bit. I didn’t just get the lucky break today that I got in Indian Wells.”

Meanwhile there were also wins for Juan Martin Del Potro and Juan Monaco.

26
Mar
12

Victoria Azarenka, Agnieszka Radwanska and Ana Ivanovic snapped up the last three berths in the round of 16, all looking impressive with straight set victories.

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The No.15-seeded Ivanovic was the first to win, racing through the first set then sneaking a 68-minute second set to get by No.20 seed Daniela Hantuchova, 62 76(2). With a handful of errors from her opponent Ivanovic built a 6-2 lead in the breaker, then fired a forehand winner on her very first match point. “Daniela and I have played a lot of times in the past. Even in practice it’s always tight,” Ivanovic said. “I played really well in the first set. I think I started to rush a little more in the second – I started wanting to close out the match and wanted to rush and rush. I was focused more on the end than staying in the moment. But I’m really happy I managed to keep composed and then win the tie-breaker. “It was a very, very important win for me today.” Ivanovic and Hantuchova were wearing the same adidas tennis dress on the court. “It’s pretty funny – we were joking, at least one was blonde and one was brunette. It would be a problem if I played Sorana,” Ivanovic said. “But seriously, it is a little bit strange. You look up and see yourself. It’s like, ‘Is that a mirror?'” Ivanovic is going to pass Jelena Jankovic on the next rankings, her first time being the Serbian No.1 since the 2008 US Open fortnight (during those two weeks, Ivanovic was ranked No.1 in the world and Jankovic was No.2). Next up for Ivanovic is Venus Williams, who saved match point to win earlier in the day. Williams has won seven of eight meetings against Ivanovic, but they are a much closer 1-1 when playing on outdoor hardcourts.

Six minutes after Ivanovic’s win, No.5 seed Agnieszka Radwanska completed a 66-minute, 61 62 rout of Sílvia Soler-Espinosa, winning almost twice as many points as the tenacious Spaniard during the match (58 to 30). Later at night, top-ranked, top-seeded defending champion Victoria Azarenka improved to 25-0 on the season with a 60 62 rout of Heather Watson. Azarenka won the first nine games to go up 60 30; Watson started closing in towards the end, winning two of the last five games, but it was just too late for the Brit.

 

24
Mar
12

Venus ousts Kvitova as Azarenka goes to 24-0.

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Azarenka stretched her unbeaten run to 24 matches this year with another easy win in her first appearance in Miami. Her latest victim was Michaella Krajicek of the Netherlands, who fought hard but was no match for Azarenka as the Belarusian cruised to a 6-3 7-5 win. Azarenka is off to the hottest start to a season since Martina Hingis won her first 37 matches in 1997. Her wins this year include the Australian Open and Indian Wells last week, but she realizes she now has a target on her back. “I felt that she had nothing to lose, so she went for her shots, she was really aggressive,” Azarenka said. “I think I could have been more aggressive and play more my game, but I found the right shot selection and the right opportunities when I needed.”

Venus Williams ousted Wimbledon champion and third seed Petra Kvitova 6-4 4-6 6-0 in an evening match. Former world number one Williams, playing in her first WTA event since last year’s U.S. Open, broke Czech Kvitova three times in the final set. “The third set was very cruel for me,” left-hander Kvitova said. “The first two games I had game points and break points, but I didn’t make it. “Then it was tough to still focus on my plan for the rest of the match. I knew what I had to do today but, if I wasn’t returning very well, it’s tough to play against her. “She looks very ready, very fit. She’s back,” the Czech said of Williams, who revealed at the US Open she had been diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome, an auto-immune disease that causes fatigue and joint soreness.

Elsewhere, ninth seed Vera Zvonareva crashed out of the tournament, beaten 6-4 6-3 by Spanish wildcard Garbine Muguruza while Ana Ivanovic eased past Vania King 6-4 7-5.

21
Mar
12

Kim Clijsters and Venus Williams marked their returns to the WTA Tour with victories in the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami.

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Clijsters, playing for the first time since her Australian Open semi-final defeat to Victoria Azarenka, had skipped last week’s Indian Wells tournament to rest her injured ankle and was forced to dig deep for a 4-6 6-1 6-0 win over Australia’s Jarmila Gajdosova to reach the second round . And the 28-year-old, a winner of the Miami event in 2005 and 2010, overcame a sluggish start to book her place in round two, where she will next play 14th seed Julia Goerges for the first time in her career. It’s always tough to get that first match rhythm under your belt,” Clijsters told the WTA website. “When it comes down to my game I felt I wasn’t quite going through my shots as I should have. I was just trying to find that rhythm, but on the other hand forgetting to still play aggressive tennis. “But as I started to feel more comfortable with the conditions and being in a match situation again I was hitting better, and that showed in the second and third sets.” Clijsters also said the ankle that kept her out since Australia is 95 per cent good now. “It had been a while since I played a match,” she added. “My last tournament was in Melbourne, a good month and a half or two months ago, or even longer. I was home rehabbing my ankle and had a really good practice and physical schedule. But it’s just a matter of getting those matches again. “One thing I can count on is I have the experience, though. It doesn’t take me that long to get used to it again. But it has become tougher.”

Venus Williams also made a winning return to action as she beat Japanese veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm 6-0 6-3. The seven-time Grand Slam champion, who has not played a WTA event since pulling out of last year’s US Open, cruised to victory in 77 minutes. The American fired down five aces and landed 56 per cent of her first serves while surrendering only one service break. She will now take on Czech third seed Petra Kvitova, who had a first-round bye, in the second round. Williams announced at the 2011 US Open she had been diagnosed with the auto-immune disorder Sjogren Syndrome, an illness which saps energy and causes joint pains.

 

 




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