Friday, May 31, 2013

French Open--what they said

I like the fact that it’s a little bit slower probably than a lot of the courts that we play on and gives me time to use my big shots, set up points the way that I want to. I like the sliding into the shots and all that type of thing.
Sam Stosur

I would love to win this one, but there are still a lot of people in the draw that would love to win this tournament, as well. I'm just one of those.
Serena Williams

Varvara Lepchenko transformed the terre battue into a treadmill and Angelique Kerber was doing much of the road work.
Richard Pagliaro

Well, you know, I’m an old-timer, and experience serves when you’re old, because I knew what she was thinking about. So I thought, "If I can produce a shot when I oblige her to do even better, and she can’t, then she will be thinking about it," which is exactly what happened.
Marion Bartoli

Bartoli vs. Schiavone: Coming soon to a theater near you

Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli didn't have an easy time of it today in her French Open second round match against Mariana Duque-Marino, but she walked away with a 7-6, 7-5 victory. 2010 champion Francesca Schiavone won her second round match (against Kirsten Flikens), too, and now two of the tour's most colorful players will meet in the third round. Schiavone is 5-3 against Bartoli, and the Italian won the only time they played each other on clay, in the semifinals of the 2011 French Open.

Clay is Schiavone's favorite surface; it is Bartoli's least favored. Schiavone has to be considered the favorite here. The contrast of styles provides some intrigue: The Italian is the master of slice and spin, and she can exhibit stunning athleticism. Bartoli, on the other hand, is a fierce returner of serve. Both love the fight. We can count on plenty of grunting (actual grunting, not screaming), fist-pumping, yelling, glaring, and who knows what else. Just something to look forward to.

Bartoli wasn't the only one who had a hard time of it today. Agnieszka Radwanska had one of her "off" days against Dinah Pfizenmaier the German qualifier who beat Radwanska's sister in the second round. Pfizenmaier has some impressive skills, but her tentative forehand led to some poor shot selections, and she lost in straight sets. Radwanska was a step slow throughout most of the match, however, and will definitely have to turn it up a notch to compete with Ana Ivanovic in the next round. Ivanovic defeated Frenchwoman Virginie Razzano.

Also advancing to the third round today were Serena Williams, Roberta Vinci, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Carla Suarez Navarro, and Angelique Kerber, who beat Varvara Lepchenko for the first time in her career in what turned out to be a real slug-fest. The other player to advance was 2012 runner-up Sara Errani, who made pretty short work of Sabine Lisicki.

Finishing their matches and advancing to the second round were defending champion Maria Sharapova and Stefanie Voegele. who beat Brussels champion Kaia Kanepi.

Aside from the Bartoli vs. Schiavone match, the most interesting contest--at least in terms of the draw--scheduled for tomorrow is the third round match between Jelena Jankovic and Sam Stosur. Jankovic is 6-2 against Stosur, and beat her this year in Stuttgart. I think another match worth watching is the one between Voegele and Maria Kirilenko.

Victoria Azarenka, not known for her clay court skills, is operating a bit under the radar at Roland Garros, which is probably good for her. Her next opponent is Frenchwoman Alize Cornet, so the world number 3 will feel right at home--the entire crowd will be cheering against her. Should Azarenka win that match, she'll then face either Bartoli (another Frenchwoman) or Schiavone (a beloved former French Open champion). It's a good thing that Azarenka has embraced the "outsider" role.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Stormy weather

Rainy day in Montmartre
Roger Federer had a practice session interrupted by hail last week. The first round went on for days, there have been so many rain delays at the French Open this week. The weather has frequently been chilly--Venus Williams was spotted wearing a hooded parka--and the WTA players have sometimes competed a la Azarenka, in leggings. The court is already slow, and in humid, wet weather, the tennis balls get very heavy.

Conditions will have to get worse, however, to top those of 2010, when players found themselves competing in mud--in the dark. There were no lights on the court, but officials ruled that play should continue, anyway.

In the third round, Nadia Petrova and Aravane Rezai played in the dark during a rainstorm. Each held three match points; each saw three match points disappear. The next morning, they returned, and--after a total playing time of two hours and 48 minutes--Petrova won the match, 6-7, 6-4, 10-8.

Also in the third round, Maria Sharapova and four-time champion Justine Henin played in the dark on wet clay. Henin won, but Sharapova took the match to three sets. Henin would go out to eventual runner-up Sam Stosur in the next round.

French Open--what they said

I was a little bit surprised the way she's hitting on the court. Well done for her.
Li Na

I knew she wasn't going to give it to me.
Bethanie Mattek-Sands

I haven't done too well with the delays. During the first wait I played on my phone, in the second I went to sleep. You literally have nothing to do. Should I eat? Do cartwheels? You have no idea. Last week in Brussels I had my nails done, and went and made chocolate. Then I played a match on the same day-- chocolate. Obviously the nails and chocolate weren't a good combination.
Sloane Stephens

She looked a little like a 1930s newsboy. But instead of delivering newspapers, Mattek-Sands delivered the biggest upset of this year's French Open so far by beating the 2011 champ 5-7, 6-3, 6-2..
Jim Caple

This is is not about tennis, it’s about something inside, and in this tournament I found something in myself.
Zuzana Kucova, bidding farewell to her care

I had a lot of food allergies, and it made a world of difference when I switched that up.
Bethanie Mattek-Sands

I usually have a song in my head.
During the whole match?
Between points or at a change of ends. Or if they play music at the change of ends or the U.S. Open, I have the song in my head for the next two games.
And it doesn't hurt your concentration?
No, it's actually a way for me to know if I'm concentrated or not. But if I'm good, I can look at people in the crowd, I can tell you who ate what, who drank what. It's pretty amazing.
Marion Bartoli

"La Chaussette" makes news in Paris

It has always been a matter of frustration to me--how talented Bethanie Mattek-Sands is and how cursed her career has been by chronic injury. Fortunately, the WTA's anti-fashion (and I mean that in a good way) icon has made a big name for herself in doubles. But then, during her healthy periods, one sees how much potential she has in singles.

Like today, for instance. The 28-year-old American literally beat 2011 French Open champion Li Na at her own game, displaying the kind of aggression that makes her a joy to watch.

At first, the match appeared to go "as planned." Li won four straight games, but then Mattek-Sands won four right back, and the fight was on. Li took the first set 7-5, then both players had to deal with light rain, as well as rain delays. And the more the 6th seed lost her way, the more Mattek-Sands took it to her. The world number 67 won the last two sets 6-3, 6-2 and hit 32 winners. Up 5-1 in the third, Mattek-Sands faced a suddenly feisty Li and wound up having to serve for the match twice. A losing Li can be a dangerous Li, but her surge came too late this time.

Mattek-Sands will play Paula Ormachea in the third round. Ormachea defeated Yaroslava Shavedova in straight sets today.

Meanwhile, a still-cranky (and especially after the rain delay) Victoria Azarenka faced up-and-coming German Anika Beck, who generally appears fearless when she opposes higher-ranked players, and who generally makes those players work for the points. Today was no exception. Aazarenka won, 6-4, 6-3, but it wasn't pretty.

Jelena Jankovic beat Garbine Muguruza, and Marina Erakovic beat Dominika Cibulkova (what a terrible season she's having). Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic lost to Sam Stosur, but Frenchwoman Alize Cornet advanced to the third round with a win over Silvia Soler-Espinosa.

Jamie Hampton and Sloane Stephens won their second round matches. There are four American women still in the draw.

Of note: Petra Kvitova hit 30 winners and won her match against Peng Shuai in straight sets.

There was a notable upset in first round doubles play. Irina-Camelia Begu and Magdalena Rybarikova defeated 6th seeds Abigail Spears and Raquel Kops-Jones. 2011 French Open champions Andrea Havackova and Lucie Hradecka advanced to the second round by defeating Alize Lim and Aravane Rezai.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

How many Radwanska sisters does it take to change a light bulb?

Two. One to hold the ladder, and one to twist Maria Sharapova.

But seriously...

The somewhat anticipated (not by me) third round French Open clash between the Polish sisters is now merely a fantasy, as Ula was defeated in straight sets today by Dinah Pfizenmaier. The German qualifier now has to face the wrath of Aga in the third round, and who wants to take on consecutive Radwanskas?

Please note that the Radwanska Threat Level has been downgraded from Alarm to Calm (for now).

French Open--what they said

I had a very tough opponent; I was actually surprised she wasn't seeded at the tournament.
Victoria Azarenka

Clay probably is not my favorite surface.
Caroline Wozniacki

I knew that I had more chances of losing than winning….
Aravane Rezai

Sometimes you have to risk more on the second serve, and sometimes you can just put the ball on the court.
Agnieszka Radwanska

So I found myself faced with a mirror in front of me; she plays pretty much like me….
Aravane Rezai

As the Frenchwoman tired, Kvitova took the match in hand and stumbled, rather than cruised home.
Andrew Lilley

Are you ready for the big returners?
Agnieszka Radwanska

Keep being you, Marion. Keep twitching. Keep competing. Keep hogging that stage. We’ll be watching.
Lindsay Gibbs

Au revoir, Wozniacki and Pavlyuchenkova

Bojana Jovanovski is known to be somewhat of a disaster magnet, but today in Paris, she was the disaster--for Caroline Wozniacki, that is. Jovanovski took the former world number 1 out in straight sets in the second round, hitting 33 winners along the way.

Joining Wozniacki in the exit line was Anastasia "Now You See Her Now You Don't" Pavlyuchenkova, who left the tournament courtesy of Petra Cetkovska, who defeated the Russian 7-5, 2-6, 6-4.

The win of the day was accomplished by Australian teenager Ashleigh Barty, who beat Lucie Hradecka. Frenchwomen Caroline Garcia, Aravane Rezai and Mathilde Johansson lost, but Frenchwoman Virginie Razzano advanced to the third round. Petra Kvitova had to--all together now!--play three sets to beat Rezai.

Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Sara Errani, Angelique Kerber, and Agnieszka Radwanska all easily advanced. Maria Kirilenko and Roberta Vinci also made it to the third round. Jamie Hampton upset Lucie Safarova.

The first round was finally completed, and half of the second round was completed, too, so everything is caught up--for now

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

French Open--what they said

She just runs the balls down and almost baits you into going for too much.
Martina Navratilova, commenting on JJ

With rain breaks included, the tie stretched over an entire afternoon and was a heady cocktail of nervous energy, glares, glaring errors, fist-pumps, double-fisted winners and double-faulted disasters. And that was just Marion, though her opponent was no less guilty at times.
Andrew Lilley

There's a lot of bad hair I regret tremendously. But I don't really have regrets.
Venus Williams (from her Yes Network CenterStage interview)

On the court, nobody can do it in my stead, can they? I'm alone. I have to shoulder the responsibility and produce the goods like I did in this match.
Marion Bartoli

I thought my slice was good and I served well. Yeah, overall very happy.
Sam Stosur

Reuters says Bartoli “hogged the stage” in her three-hour, opening-round victory Tuesday, keeping Novak Djokovic from making his center-court debut until 6:30 p.m. Funny, I don’t remember seeing the articles accusing Monfils of the same thing Monday when his four-plus-hour match pushed defending champion Maria Sharapova off Chatrier and onto Court Suzanne Lenglen for her tournament debut. Also, one might argue that it was the multiple rain delays that actually prevented Djokovic from getting on court before 6:30 p.m., not the WTA French No. 1, who was, you know, just trying to win a match.
Courtney Nguyen

Jankovic beats Hantuchova in first round of French Open

Jelena Jankovic extended her career record against Daniela Hantuchova to 6-3 today in Paris, winning their first round match 6-4, 7-6 (7). After a rain break, Jankovic came back from 0-5 in the second set (Hantuchova + time to think = well, you know). Jankovic's next opponent will be up-and-coming Spanish player Garbine Muguruza.

Sam Stosur advanced easily over Kimiko Date-Krumm, and Dominika Cibulkova defeated Lesia Tsurenko.

Several matches scheduled for today were postponed until tomorrow because of the rain.

"Poor Marion" gives it the Bartoli battle--advances to second round of French Open

Today, during Tennis Channel's coverage of the knock-down drag-out between Marion Bartoli and Olga Govortsova in Paris, Martina Navratilova went on and on (and on some more) about poor Marion, and how sorry she feels for poor Marion, what with father Walter's odd training regimen and Marion's constant movement during matches. Navratilova even went so far as to say that Caroline Wozniacki's father, Piotr--unlike Walter Bartoli--would be happy to step aside and let Caroline have anyone she wanted as a coach.

Earth to Martina! First, two so-called coaches have left the Wozniacki camp because Piotr wouldn't butt out. And comparing the two players just doesn't work for me. One is a 30-year-old maverick who doesn't seem to care (bless her) what anyone thinks, and who goes about things in her own strange and wonderful way. The other is--well, not Marion. I've never thought of Bartoli as being under any kind of spell; clearly, she does prefer to have her father coach her. And--despite all the fuss--he's done a pretty good job. As Bartoli herself is happy to point out--she's not a natural athlete, but she she turned into a pretty good, if unconventional, tennis player.

Today was one of those days when Bartoli was going to win even if she collapsed during the handshake. We saw this from her when she defeated Flavia Pennetta 5-7, 6-4, 9-7 in the third round of Wimbledon in 2011 (my favorite match of that tournament), and when she went crazy on Petra Kvitova in the 2012 U.S. Open round of 16. Today's Bartoli show lasted three hours and twelve minutes, and was, in Andrew Lilley's words, "a microcosm of her entire career to date."

There were several rain breaks in the 7-6, 4-6, 7-5 match, and those rain breaks made me think of Wimbledon in 2007, when Bartoli would take a nap while it rained, then wake up and go destroy whoever had been beating her before the storm began. Whether she did that today, I don't know, but I like to think she did.

Govortsova played really well, and had the match on her racket on more than one occasion. The third set was as exciting as anyone could hope to see. Bartoli, repeatedly making one-handed swings, saved two match points at 3-5. She then broke Govortsova and suddenly, it was the Frenchwoman who was serving for the match. The final game lasted fourteen minutes, and Bartoli won on her fifth match point.

Bartoli played from behind far more than she played from a leading position. But isn't that the way Bartoli likes to do it? She pumped her fist, she shadow-swung. At one point, toward the end, the Frenchwoman actually shook her entire body all over several times (and people can say what they want about that, but the full body shake is a good strategy because it provides both physical energy and mental calmness at the same time). She did the Bartoli Glare. It was Marion at her scary finest.

The down side (other than what had to be tremendous disappointment for Govortsova) is that the players double-faulted 21 times between them. That, too, we have come to expect.

Next up for Bartoli is Mariana Duque-Marino, who defeated Kristyna Pliskova 6-2, 6-0, and it took her just an hour to do it.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Passing shots

French Open officials plan to move forward with plans to build a retractable roof in spite of a court ruling to the contrary.

Suddenly, Anabel Medina Garrigues is just oozing with contoversy.

Tennis Channel now has apps you can download, and you can watch the French Open on your mobile device.

I miss Patty Schnyder.

Nicole Gibbs of Stanford is once again the NCAA singles champion. Gibbs beat Mary Weatherholt of Nebraska in straight sets. Weatherholt, who has had several knee surgeries, injured her knee again in the second set and had trouble moving for the remainder of the match.

And finally, some advice:
"Your feet are the point from which the footwork is done. You must be easy upon them. Do not allow them to hold the ground flatly, for then movement in any direction will not be instant--never run too fast, run with short steps."
Suzanne Lenglen

Barthel and Goerges out of Paris in first round

Mona Barthel gets a bit of a pass for losing her first round match at the French Open; she had to compete against 8th seed Angelique Kerber. Given the problems that both of them have had lately, nothing would have surprised me. Kerber beat Barthel 7-6, 6-2.

Julia Goerges was another story--though not a new story. The talented but extremely inconsistent German player was defeated 7-6, 6-0 by qualifier Zuzana Kucova.

Defending champion Maria Sharapova, Agnieszka Radwanska, 2011 champion Li Na, 2010 champion Francesca Schiavone, and 2009 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova all advanced to the second round, as did Caroline Wozniacki. Wozniacki defeated Laura Robson in straight sets. Robson, more of a cow on ice that 'Pova ever was, has yet to hone her clay court movement skills. But that doesn't mean that she won't learn from her mistakes.

After the match, Wozniacki was asked about her search for a new coach, and she commented that it was difficult "to find someone who doesn't want to just go in and try to control everything." Uh-huh.

Carla Suarez Navarro won in three sets against Simona Halep--I hated to see either of them go out. RobertaVinci advanced, too, though Flavia Pennetta--not unexpectedly--lost. I'm thinking that both Pennetta and Schiavone may retire at the end of the year, and it's not a pretty thought.

Marion Bartoli, Petra Kvitova, Victoria Azarenka, Jelena Jankovic, and Samantha Stosur all play tomorrow.  Stosur gets Kimiko Date-Krumm, and who knows what that match will be like? Jankovic plays Daniela Hantuchova, and that's one that's definitely worth watching. Jankovic is 5-3 against Hantuchova, and 3-2 against her on clay. The match that they played in the Charleston quarterfinals in 2010 was of such high quality, it remains with me. Hantuchova won it 1-6, 6-3, 6-3.

French Open--what they said

…when you're winning they love it, and when you're losing, they love it.
Sloane Stephens

I think I'm used to the pain.
Agnieszka Radwanska

I know how to play my best, but sometimes it's not as easy to execute as it is in your head.
Caroline Wozniacki

What’s your best characteristic?
I think I’m very determined, but also very hard-headed.
What's your biggest flaw?
Well, being stubborn isn’t always a virtue.
Ana Ivanovic

She was brunette for, I think, two weeks, but she didn't like it at all, so she changed (to) blonde, so now we're blonde, we're both blonde now.
Agnieszka Radwanska, commenting on sister Ula

I was trying to play my game, to be aggressive, and she always came up with a better shot at the end….
Julia Goerges

…I try to move forward…attack, and then if, from time to time, I put my foot wrong, even though it's a stupid error, well, the other person knows that I can finish the point, so she's always under pressure….
Mathilde Johansson

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Venus Williams out in first round of French Open

For three hours and nineteen minutes, Venus Williams--struggling with lower back pain when she tried to execute her serve--fought Urszula Radwanska today for an opportunity to advance to the second round of the French Open. She fought hard, but Venus without her serve is at a definite disadvantage. Williams also made 66 unforced errors. She broke Radwanska the first time she served for the match, but the young Polish player prevailed 7-6, 6-7, 6-4.

The official French Open site declared Williams the first seed to be upset, which only adds insult to injury when it come to Nadia Petrova, who was the first seed to lose. 11th seed Petrova, who led Monica Puig by a break in the third set, was defeated 3-6, 7-5, 6-4.

Oh, Nadia.

Serena Williams cruised past Anna Tatishvili, who won just one game against the top seed. Williams then addressed the crowd in French, which reminds me--this is a Steve Tignor column that really resonated with me. (Oh, those poor players who actually have to be stuck in Europe--my heart goes out to them.)

Ana Ivanovic needed five match points to win against Petra Martic, and this after she led 5-1 in the second set.

2013 runner-up Sara Errani advanced easily over Arantxa Rus, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (known simply as "Anastasia" on the French Open website's "completed scores" page) had a time of it defeating Andrea Hlavackova, and Sorana Cirstea is also still in the draw. If the mercurial Romanian wins her next match, she is extremely likely to face Serena Williams in the third round.

Both Mallory Burdette and Shelby Rogers won their first-round matches. Burdette is probably going to get Agnieszka Radwanska next, and Rogers will get the winner of the Simona Halep vs. Carla Suarez Navarro match.

French Open--what they said

Do you think Maria believes she can beat Serena?
She doesn't play like she does.
Martina Navratilova

Patience is premium if she's going to win another French Open.
Rennae Stubbs, commenting on Serena Williams

I really was a little nervous. I lost it a little bit for a few points.
Ana Ivanovic

I can't really serve very hard. It's painful when I do that. But I'm getting better. I just, you know, ran out of time to get better for this tournament. My strategy was more or less to put the ball in, and that's very difficult for me, too, because that's not who I am. But that's all I had.
Venus Williams

...a black hole could engulf the entire surrounding stadium--and tournament grounds!--and simply leave Aga and Ula to battle, alone, for the right to rule the free (and un-free) world, either alone or in tandem.
Todd Spiker, on the possibility of an all-Rad match

Saturday, May 25, 2013

French Open: Serena vs. Everybody

When Serena Williams lost in the first round of the French Open last year, I remember thinking: "Okay--all Roland Garros potential opponents are in for it now." I wasn't wrong, though it was a while before I acknowledged the materialization of my thought. Since her only first-round loss in a major, Williams--with some help from Patrick Mouratoglou--has turned clay into a highly "favored" surface. The champion in Charleston, Madrid and Rome, the world number 1 now looks as ready to win in Paris as she normally looks ready to win in London.

In a way--but in a much more obvious way--Williams' arrival at the 2013 French Open echoes Maria Sharapova's arrival in Paris in 2012. The Cow on Ice came prepared to manage the special skills required for red clay dominance, and it paid off. Sharapova has become a much better mover and strategist on clay. Her chances of defending her title seemed very good--until Williams went on a hell-bent mission to dominate on tennis's grittiest surface.

I can think of only three women who have any likelihood of lifting the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen in a couple of weeks--Williams, Sharapova and Li Na. Each of them has won the tournament one time. Each of them can do it. But at this stage, Williams is clearly the favorite (Li is kind of the "un-favorite" but things can change in a short period of time when a championship is at stake).

Williams, the top seed in Paris, really doesn't have too much to fear in her quarter. 2009 French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova is there, and I don't want to underestimate her, but she has her own problems, which include her mentality, and the presence of Ekaterina Makarova as her first-round opponent. Also lurking in that quarter is Angelique Kerber, which brings me to what I think is the one of the most--if not the most--interesting first-round match-ups: Kerber plays countrywoman Mona Barthel. Barthel's game has gone to pieces again (suddenly an annual springtime event), but she could get it back in Paris, and Kerber has been a physical wreck recently. Barthel is fond of clay, and an upset is possible. Another player to keep an eye on in that quarter, of couse, is Roberta Vinci.

Agnieszka Radwanska leads the second quarter, but Radwanska is having so much trouble with her shoulder, one has to wonder how far she can go (bear in mind, however, that we all said exactly the same thing right before she won the two big Asian tournaments back to back). Radwanska has been off lately, and just doesn't appear to be that much of a threat.

Nadia Petrova and 2012 runner-up Sara Errani are also in that quarter. And while it may seem foolish to even consider Oh-Nadia a contender within the quarter, there was a time when she was superb on clay. In fact, in 2006, she was considered a major contender to win the French Open, but her run was cut short by an injury she sustained during a warm-up. On a given day, Petrova can do damage.

Another really interesting first round contest takes place in the Radwanska quarter: Simona Halep plays Carla Suarez Navarro. Both women are excellent clay players, and Halep recently reached the semifinals in Rome by taking out Daniela Hantuchova, Kuznetsova, Radwanska, Roberta Vinci, and Jelena Jankovic. As for Errani--a better serve would give her a probable fast track to the semifinals to back to the final. At any rate, there isn't likely to be anyone pleased to see her on the other side of the  net. When it comes to clay finesse, the Italian player just "gets" it.

Li is in the third quarter, and her Roland Garros effort starts with a bang; she plays Anabel Medina Garrigues, a clay court veteran who can beat just about anyone on the right day. Brussels champion Kaia Kanepi is hanging out in that quarter, too, as well as 2010 French Open champion (and runner-up to Li in 2011) Francesca Schiavone. Oh--and Victoria Azarenka. Li, in other words, has her work cut out for her.

Sharapova is in the last quarter of the draw, and an interesting one it is. Petra Kvitova is there, as well as Jelena Jankovic, 2010 runner-up Sam Stosur, and Dominika Cibulkova (a comeback could happen at any time). Of interest: Jankovic's first opponent will be Daniela Hantuchova.

Popular wisdom is that Serena Williams' greatest threat at this French Open is herself. She hasn't won in Paris since 2002, and obstacles tend to appear whenever she makes a run at the title. Last year, the obstacle was Virginie Razzano, who fought Williams for three hours and sent her out of the tournament in the opening round. And while anything can happen, 2013 appears to be the year when  obstacles to another Williams French championship can be swatted away with the quick swing of a Wilson Blade.

French Open champion predictions

Darren Cahill--Serena Williams
Cliff Drysdale--Serena Williams
Chris Evert--Serena Williams
Brad Gilbert--Serena Williams
Pam Shriver--Serena Williams
Greg Garber--Serena Williams
Kamakshi Tandon--Serena Williams
Matt Wilannsky--Serena Williams
Pete Bodo--Serena Williams
Todd Spiker--Serena Williams*
Mary Joe Fernandez--Serena Williams
Ed McGrogan--Serena Williams
Richard Pagliaro--Serena Williams
Steve Tignor--Serena Williams

*caRL piCk2--Maria Sharapova
(Carla beautifully selects Sara Errani)

Passing shots

Caroline Wozniacki has announced that her father Piotr will no longer be her coach (and if you believe that, yes--I have some swampland you can buy!). Wozniacki says she has to decide between two coaching candidates, and her father commented that whomever Caroline selects will be a long-term coach. This announcement comes not long after Wozniacki's stated intention to retain her father as her coach for the remainder of her career.

Speaking of Wozniacki, she will play Laura Robson in the first round of the French Open.

Maria Sharapova is in Paris talking about--Sugarpova, of course. (via The Slice)

Maria Kirilenko is on the cover of Women's Health Russia.

Venus and Serena Williams have received a wild card to play doubles at the French Open. The Williams sisters have not competed in the doubles event since 2010, when they won it.

Kanepi wins in Brussels

Kaia Kanepi won her fourth WTA title today in Brussels. It wasn't that easy a task, however. The Tall One From Tallin had to serve for the final three times against Peng Shuai, and was finally able to win on her fourth match point, with a 6-2, 7-5 victory.

Peng, now a finalist twice in Brussels, has yet to win a WTA title. She has been a runner-up four times.

There was a lot of rain in Brussels this week, and players had to double up. Both Kanepi and Peng had to play two matches today. Before entering the final, Kanepi defeated Jamie Hampton, and Peng defeated Romini Oprandi.

2nd seeds Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Kveta Peschke won the doubles title, defeating Gabriela Dabrowski and Shahar Peer 6-0, 6-3.

Meanwhile, in Strasbourg, Alize Cornet won her third WTA title today, defeating Lucie Hradecka 7-6, 6-0 in the final.

And look who just won another doubles title! Kimiko Date-Krumm and Chanelle Scheepers won the Strasbourg championship when they defeated Cara Black and Marina Erakovic 6-4, 3-6. 14-12 in the final.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Early U.S. Open ticket sales available via U.S. Open Facebook page

Fans can get a first look at and buy U.S. Open tickets by accessing the U.S. Open Facebook page on June 9. Tickets go on sale to the general public on June 10.

Passing shots

Top seed Marion Bartoli was defeated 6-3, 6-2 today in the opening round in Strasbourg by Camila Giorgi.

Here's a recent interview with Garbine Muguruza.

Here are the Fila outfits that Jelena Jankovic, Julia Goerges and Nadia Petrova will wear during the French Open.

Varvara Lepchenko is blogging from Brussels.

Ashleigh Barty has been awarded a wild card into the main draw of the French Open. Other women given wild cards are Shelby Rogers, Claire Feuerstein, Stephanie Foretz-Gacon, Caroline Garcia, Irena Pavlovic, Virginie Razzano, and Aravane Rezai.

'Pova talks about Paris on CNN Open Court.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Williams wins Rome

Serena Williams, who defended her title last week in Madrid, won the Rome title today by easily defeating Victoria Azarenka 6-1, 6-3 in the final. Williams then put the icing on the cream cake by delivering her entire acceptance speech in Italian.

Earlier in the clay season, Williams won Charleston. This makes her the runaway favorite to win the French Open, the only major that she hasn't won multiple times. Williams won the French in 2002, but since then, has not been able to dominate on red clay because the slowness of the surface tends to neutralize her power and allows more clay-savvy players to take advantage.

Well, that was then--and this is now. Displaying a new dominance on the slowest of surfaces, Williams has become the woman to beat in Paris. Her two main competitors (in my opinion) are defending champion Maria Sharapova and Li Na. Each of them has also won the French Open once. Li's French Open warmup hasn't been that impressive; Sharapova (who withdrew from the Rome quarterfinals because of a viral illness) is going to be at the opposite end of the draw from Williams. Should the two top seeds prevail, it could be an interesting final--or not. Williams has been dominant over Sharapova on other surfaces for the last decade.

Last year, Sara Errani made it to the final, but her serve wasn't good enough to make her competitive against Sharapova. It still isn't.

There was an upset in the Rome doubles final, and it couldn't have been easy for the crowd. Italians Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci, the top seeds, were beaten  4-6, 6-3, 10-8 by the unseeded team of Hsieh Su-Wei and Peng Shuai. Errani and Vinci also lost to Hsieh and Peng in the second round in Indian Wells.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Passing shots

Serena Williams has just posted 22 consecutive match victories--the longest winning streak of her career. Who would have predicted this?

Heather Watson, who has been off the tour because of glandular fever, hopes to play in Strasbourg.

Victoria Azarenka says she is somewhat afraid of heights and somewhat afraid of the dark.

Get to know Dinah Pfizenmaier.

Amen, sister.

Sam Stosur always has some Vegemite and an Australian flag with her.

Azarenka and Errani advance to Rome semifinals

Looking at today's Rome match stats, it's easy to see how Samantha Stosur finally beat Victoria Azarenka. Oh wait--she didn't. Talk about doing it with mirrors. With a 14/34 winners/unforced errors ratio (Stosur's was 36/38), Azarenka's 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 victory came about mostly because--in the final set--Stosur ceased her aggression. How many times have we seen this? The 3rd seed is now 8-0 against Stosur.

(Did anyone else think Azarenka looked kind of heavy? Today was the first time I'd seen her play in Rome.)

Top seed Serena Williams made quick work of Carla Suarez Navarro, beating her 6-2, 6-0 in under an hour. Maria Sharapova, who is sick with a viral illness, gave Sara Errani a walkover. Errani and Azarenka will compete for a spot in the final against the winner of Williams vs. Halep.

Simon(a) says--It's upset time!

Having already run through Daniela Hantuchova, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Agnieszka Radwanska, and Roberta Vinci--today, qualifier Simona Halep advanced to the Rome semifinals by taking out two-time Rome champion Jelena Jankoavic.

Oh, the drama.

Halep played quite well in the first set, and saved two set points, but was outdone, 6-4, by Jankovic. And then she went all crazy on JJ the way she had on Radwanska earlier in the week, winning every game in the second set. That was pretty dramatic in itself; Halep threw every clay court trick known in Romania (and that's quite a few) at Jankovic.

But in the third set, Jankovic went up 3-0, 40-15, and looked like she was on her way to yet another Rome semifinal, but Halep fought back, then fought back some more, breaking her opponent twice. Eventually, the Romanian player would resemble a determined and clever gnat that could not be swatted away, and Jankovic's swat would become less and less effective. Though Halep's serve (the only weakness she displayed in this match) provided multiple opportunities for Jankovic to get the whole thing over with, the Serbian star was tapping forehands over the net instead of hitting winners.

Then, finally, Jankovic served for the match. She held two match points. Halep saved them both. Halep then held, and suddenly, she had two match points on Jankovic's serve.

It was almost over, but the player known by many as Drama Queen (or, in some parts, Queen Chaos)--after muttering and gesturing her way through two sets--had one last performance to deliver. At 5-6, 15-40, she smashed a ball deep into the deuce court, and it was called out by a line official. Play was stopped, as the chair umpire went to check the line. She quickly the declared the ball in, and Jankovic assumed she had hit a winner and saved a match point, but the chair umpire called for a replay.

Jankovic argued with the umpire, then hung her head--indeed, slumped her entire body--over the net in frustration. Halep would go on to win the final set 7-5.

This is the third time that Jankovic and Halep have played one another. All of their matches have gone to three sets, and Halep has won both matches played on clay.

Halep's very impressive journey to the semifinals is reminiscent of other recent big, unexpected, clay tournament runs. Aravane Rezai won Madrid in 2010, taking out Justine Henin, Jankovic and Venus Williams, among others. That same year, Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez claimed the Rome title, defeating Jankovic 7-5, 7-6 in the final with a series of expert drop shots that repeatedly stunned the (fast-moving) defending champion. Martinez Sanchez's other victims included Francesca Schiavone (who would go on to win the French Open that year), Caroline Wozniacki and Ana Ivanovic. The result was probably a particularly bitter pill for Jankovic to swallow because she had defeated both Williams sisters on her way to the final.

And speaking of Williams sisters--world number 1 Serena Williams will be Halep's next opponent. Halep, a qualifier, has already played six matches.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Halep continues her run in Rome

Simona Halep, who had already eliminated 2009 French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova and world number 4 Agnieszka Radwanska from the Italian Open, took another step today when she defeated Italian clay expert (and 13th seed) Roberta Vinci in straight sets. Next up for the under-the-radar Romanian is Jelena Jankovic.

Jankovic defeated 2011 French Open champion Li Na 7-6, 7-5 today, and what a ride it was. Li made 62 unforced errors, which kind of tells the story of the match, but not really. Jankovic found a way to win, though it wasn't pretty. The turning point of the match came in the seventh game of the second set. It took Jankovic ten break points to finally break Li, as both players made impressive shots and unforced errors in succession. When Li double-faulted for the second time in the game, the opponents (who are also former doubles partners) could do nothing but smile.

Jankovic held in the next game, but then Li broke her--and it took her seven break points to get the job done. In the end though, after over 2 hours and 39 minutes, Jankovic prevailed. She and partner Mirjana Lucic-Baroni prevailed in doubles, too, defeating 7th seeds Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Kveta Peschke.

Both Maria Kirilenko and Ayumi Morita retired in their 3rd round matches today. Kirilenko's opponent was Sara Errani, and Errani's victory makes her the new world number 5.

Also today, Sam Stosur got her first ever win over Petra Kvitova.

Here is the quarterfinal singles draw:

Serena Williams (1) vs. Carla Suarez Navarro
Simona Halep vs. Jelena Jankovic
Samantha Stosur (9) vs. Victoria Azarenka (3)
Sara Errani (7) vs. Maria Sharapova (2)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Petra in Rome: She did it with mirrors

These days, any reasonably good player wakes up in the morning believing she can beat Caroline Wozniacki and Petra Kvitova; neither of them is very scary at the moment. Wozniacki made her exit from Rome today in the first round, compliments of Bojana Jovanovski.

Kvitova was another story, though the story has gotten old. She won the first set against Sabine Lisicki, 6-4. The second set was over almost before you could say "Oh, Petra"--Lisicki won every game. Watching Kvitova in that set, I wondered "Who is this player?" The big serve was absent, the powerful groundstrokes were absent, the wicked angles were absent.

Serving at 1-2, Kvitova went down 0-40, but saved three break points. Lisicki broke her anyway, to go up 3-1. And then the Mystery Switch began to hum, as the Czech player slowly turned it on. At 5-all, she broke Lisicki, who--by this time--was playing at a lower level--then won on her own serve to take the match. It's painful to watch Kvitova go through this routine (which is often unsuccessful, as well), but it's become predictable.

In the next round, Kvitova is probably going to play Sam Stosur (unless Peng Shuai has something to say about that), who has her own issues. Kvitova is 4-0 against Stosur, with her last win coming at Fed Cup.

It was an especially bad day for Agnieszka Radwanska. Qualifier Simona Halep has been known to take out a top player or two, and today, she let loose on Radwanska in what was practically a clinic. It helped that the 4th seed was slower of foot than usual; she's been making quite a few errors lately, too. Halep defeated Radwanska 6-7, 6-1, 6-2. The victory is especially notable because, almost every time a player loses a first set tiebreak to a better player, the challenger is mentally done in. Not Halep, though. She brushed off the tiebreak loss (7-2) and went about business.

Urszula Radwanska fared better: She beat Ana Ivanovic 6-3, 2-6, 6-2. Laura Robson won four games against Serena Williams, Carla Suarez Navarro beat Nadia Petrova, and Romina Oprandi beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-2, 6-0.

Tomorrow, Julia Goerges takes on Victoria Azarenka. Goerges has only two settings--impressive giant-killing and multiple error-producing. Unfortunately, she leans toward the latter much of the time. It's a shame. too, because Goerges has a lot of things going for her, especially on clay. She won the Stuttgart event in 2011, taking out Azarenka, Lisicki, Stosur, and Wozniacki along the way.

Wozniacki goes blank

Blank verse, that is. I'm very pleased to have a poem about Caroline Wozniacki in The Barnstormer. (For some reason--though I often write formal poetry--I don't generally write in blank verse, so this is a nice change for me.) Following "The Lesson Of Caroline," you'll find a seasonal tennis poem.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Serena Williams defends title in Madrid

She looked a bit befuddled throughout the week, and her footwork betrayed her sometimes, but when it came down to defending her Madrid title, Serena Williams looked like--well, like Serena Williams. She defeated Maria Sharapova 6-1, 6-4, winning her 50th title, and was in control of the match from start to finish. Of course, the longer this losing streak to Williams goes on, the worse it appears to get. Sharapova doesn't look like herself when she plays the world number 1, who--every time her opponent starts to figure things out--simply elevates her game another notch.

Yesterday, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova won the Madrid doubles title by defeating Cara Black and Marina Erakovic 6-2, 6-4. This is the second title Pavlyuchenkova and Safarova have won as a team; they were the champions in Charleston in 2012. Pavlyuchenkova's new coach, Martina Hingis, also coached the unseeded championship team to the Madrid final.

Meanwhile, in Rome, Mallory Burdette beat Madison Keys in the second qualifying round, and the top-seeded qualifier, Lourdes Dominguez Lino, was knocked out in the second qualifying round by Andrea Hlavackova.

Also qualifying was Anabel Medina Garrigues, who played a very good match against Serena Williams in the Madrid quarterfinals. And regarding the Spaniard's fluffing of new balls, the WTA has acknowledged that if the umpire had seen her do it, she would most likely have had a code violation called on her.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

And so they meet again

Once, when asked about her so-called rivalry with Anna Kournikova, Martina Hingis replied "What rivalry? I win all the matches."

I bring this up because I am so tired of reading headlines about "Serena Williams and her rival, Maria Sharapova." This is not 2004, and there is no rivalry between Serena and anyone at this time. Williams has a 12-2 record against Sharapova, and Sharapova hasn't beaten her since the WTA Championships in Los Angeles eight and a half years ago.

The Russian star will get another chance tomorrow, however, when she and Williams vie for the Madrid title. Sharapova defeated Ana Ivanovic in today's semifinals, and Williams defeated Sara Errani. Sharapova's victory marked her 500th career match win.

Because of an odd twist in Sharapova's career, red clay is now probably the best surface for her to play against Williams. The neutralizing quality of red clay makes it the world number 1's least advantageous surface, while Sharapova--the 2012 French Open champion--has come a long way in learning how to compete on clay. Should Sharapova win tomorrow's final, she would become the world number 1.

And speaking of all things Williams, we could get a Venus vs. Serena 2nd round match in Rome next week. Serena has a bye in the first round, and Venus plays Laura Robson.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Passing shots

Check out this gallery of Bethanie Mattek-Sands' fashion originality through the years.

Also, here is Courtmey Nguyen's brief interview with Mattek-Sands.

Laura Robson, Heather Watson, Francesca Schiavone, Roberta Vinci, and Ekaterina Makarova have all entered the Aegon Classic in Birmingham. Defending champion Melanie Oudin will be there, too.

The former coach of Laura Robson, Zeljko Krajan, says that the young British player did not take her tennis career as seriously as she should have. Robson recently fired Krajan.

Robson talks about her loss to Ana Ivanovic in Madrid.

If Sara Errani had a better serve....

Could she win the French Open?

I say yes.

Or, what if she just developed a much more reliable first serve?

Errani made it to the final last year, and she did it--stunningly--by taking out two former French Open champions, a former French Open finalist and Angelique Kerber. Against Maria Sharapova, she was unable to win a set. Sharapova, in addition to having a better serve (unless she's double-faulting like mad) and a lot of power in her groundstrokes, has also learned a lot more about how to move on clay.

At any rate, Errani is capable of doing some damage in Paris this year, too. She certainly doesn't have the mental issues some top players have, and she fights to the end.

Ivanovic advances to Madrid semifinals

2008 French Open champion Ana Ivanovic advanced to the Madrid semifinals today when she beat 6th seed Angelique Kerber 6-3, 6-1. Ivanovic hit 26 winners and made only 14 unforced errors. Is she "back"? Or was today's excellent performance just a "good day"?

Ivanovic will play Maria Sharapova in the semifinals. Sharapova defeated Kaia Kanepi 6-2, 6-4 in the quarterfinals. Sharapova won, of course, when she played Ivanovic in the semifinals in Stuttgart.

Also advancing was Sara Errani, who brought every bit of her clay court expertise against Ekaterina Makarova, defeating her 6-4, 6-3. Some of the rallies in this match were wonderful.

Finally, defending champion Serena Williams made it to the semifinals, but she took the long way around. Williams defeated clay veteran Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-3, 0-6, 7-5. That is a very rare scoreline for the world number 1, but these things happen now and then. Williams said later that she wasn't really sure what happened in the second set, but that she just wasn't herself. Medina Garrigues, by the way, came very close to having a couple of match points. Being close to a victory doesn't tend to mean that much, however, when Williams is on the other side of the net.

Competing in the doubles final will be the team of Cara Black and Marina Erakovic and the team of Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Lucie Safarova. Both teams are unseeded.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Russia's late bloomer finesses her way into Madrid quarterfinals

What's not to like about Ekaterina Makarova? She has a way better-than-average serve, she's a very clean striker of the ball, she can  really hit the angles, introduce touch, think on the court--and she's left-handed. She also has a demeanor, both on and off the court, that makes you want to cheer for her. For years, I wondered why Makarova wasn't ranked higher (people also wondered that about Angelique Kerber, and at age 23, she started turning her career around), but the reality was that she was one of those talented players who just wasn't consistent, and who wasn't good at winning.

Now, at age 24, the "forgotten" Russian is turning into an authentic threat, especially at big events. My favorite photo of Makarova is this one from the 2013 Fed Cup semifinal because it embodies all the belief she has acquired in the past couple of years. That recent Fed Cup performance can't hurt, either. Like Kerber, Makarova is title-poor; her only title came in Eastbourne in 2010.

Makarova is a good doubles player, too, and her current partnership with countrywoman Elena Vesnina has been productive. Makarova was half of the runner-up team at the 2010 Australian Open mixed doubles competition, and she was half of the championship mixed doubles team at last year's U.S. Open.

Currently ranked number 24 in the world, Makarova reached her highest ranking, 19, earlier this year. The tall Russian is having a good week in Madrid (and, like another tall Russian, she supposedly doesn't favor clay courts), starting with a straight sets win over Lucie Safarova. In the second round, Makarova ended Victoria Azarenka's 2013 18-match streak. Today, she brought her best game to beat Marion Bartoli. In the quarterfinals, she'll play clay expert Sara Errani (seeded number 7), and if she keeps up the good serving, she could find herself in the semifinals.

I like watching her, and hope that she becomes even more of a threat in the near future.

Here is the rest of the Madrid quarterfinal draw:

Serena Williams (1) vs. Anabel Medina Garrigues
Angelique Kerber (6) vs. Ana Ivanovic
Kaia Kanepi vs. Maria Sharapova (2)

The doubles quarterfinals were played today, and there were a couple of upsets. Wild cards Silvia Soler-Espinosa and Carla Suarez Navarro defeated 4th seeds Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears, and Kristina Mladenovic (there she is again) and Galina Voskoboeva defeated 3rd seeds Makarova and Vesnina.

In the semifinals, Soler-Espinosa and Suarez Navarro will play Cara Black and Marina Erakovic, and Mladenovic and Voskoboeva will play Lucie Safarova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Singapore chosen to host WTA Championships

The rain in Spain falls mainly on the top 10

There was more top 10 damage in Madrid today when Ekaterina Makarova defeated 3rd seed Victoria Azarenka 1-6, 6-2, 6-3. Everything went well for Azarenka in the first set, but after that, the former world number 1 put on a display of anger reminiscent of the "old" Vika. She broke a couple of rackets, she said a lot of angry things, and she took a cheap shot at chair umpire Mariana Alves.

In the past few years, Makarova has learned how to win at important moments, and it wasn't difficult for her to exploit Azarenka's runaway emotions.

Just a few weeks ago, a television commentator said of Petra Kvitova, "She's kind of mixing it up, Kvitova--the sublime and the ridiculous." Well put. Today, the 8th seed tried to pull off her usual "wait until the last moment and storm the gates" strategy, but wild card Daniela Hantuchova had something to say about that. Kvitova went down 2-5 in the third set, broke Hantuchova, held her serve, then came very close to breaking Hantuchova the second time the veteran player served for the match. But Hantuchova prevailed, with a 2-6. 6-2, 6-3 victory.

Hantuchova, who has been playing quite well lately (and has, in fact, always played quite well--her game usually wasn't her problem) and holding her nerve, did everything she could--changing pace, spinning, etc.--to unravel Kvitova's pace and big groundstrokes, and it was a good strategy. She played clay court tennis. Of course, it helped her cause that Kvitova made 54 unforced errors.

These days, watching Kvitova--especially when she just barely wins--makes me think of Thrill Ride (for those new to reading this blog, Thrill Ride was my name for Dinara Safina). I miss Thrill Ride, but--despite the thrills--her last-minute desperate action doesn't make for a good example to be followed. Especially by someone who won the Madrid tournament only two years ago.

Probably the most a agonizing match was played between Laura Robson and Ana Ivanovic. It went to three sets, and neither woman appeared to want to win. Up 5-2, Robson served for the match twice and was broken both times. But when she served for the match at 6-5, Ivanovic was broken. Finally, Ivanovic won the match by winning the third set tiebreak, which ended with a double fault. Robson committed eleven of those in the match, and Ivanovic committed ten.

Also today, top seeds Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka were beaten 6-2, 6-4 in the second round by Svetlana Kuznetsova and Flavia Pennetta.

The third round is still in progress, and, for the record, there are only four top 10 players remaining in the draw: Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Angelique Kerber, and Sara Errani.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Passing shots

Shelby Rogers has earned a wild card into the main draw of the French Open.

Talk about opening up the draw. Today, in Madrid, Sam Stosur went out in the first round (def. by Carla Suarez Navarro) and Agnieszka Radwanska went out in the second (def. by Laura Robson). Li Na, Jelena Jankovic, Caroline Wozniacki, Mona Barthel, and Roberta Vinci have already been eliminated from the tournament.

Venus Williams has become one of the owners of World Team Tennis.

Sara Errani is blogging from Madrid.

Just in case you haven't seen it, here's an emphatic piece of self-destruction, brought to you by Sloane Stephens. "What was she thinking?" doesn't seem adequate.

You'd think that sexist people would come up with something better than the tired and routine "shrill" description for women who actually speak their minds. Calling Venus Williams "shrill" actually makes my blood boil, just as it does when female politicians are called "shrill." Oh, and perhaps someone should tell the unbearably shrill Mr. Brown that the tour offered to play five-set matches, but Wimbledon turned down the offer.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

First round play in Madrid perhaps not what we expected

Li Na is out of Madrid. Just like that. Li was defeated--and defeated soundly--today in the first round by lucky loser Madison Keys. Keys had lost in qualifying to Bethanie Mattek-Sands. Also going out in the first round today was Caroline Wozniacki, who lost to Yaroslava Shvedova.

But that wasn't the end of it. Jelena Jankovic was defeated by qualifier Chanelle Scheepers, and Roberta Vinci lost to Varvara Lepchenko. Yesterday, it was Mona Barthel who went out, beaten by Kirsten Flipkens.

On paper, these first round losses are very surprising, but we shouldn't be that surprised by Wozniacki and Barthel; neither of them is having a very good time of it. The other losses did surprise me. I consider Li a contender to win the French Open, Jankovic had actually started looking like herself again, and Vinci--well, I expected her to win on clay.

Two players who have yet to compete in the first round are Victoria Azarenka and Sam Stosur. Azarenka will play Portugal Open champion Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, and Stosur will play Portugal Open runner-up Carla Suarez Navarro. If Stosur wins, she gets Kaia Kanepi in the second round.

And, speaking of the second round, should we brace ourselves for more upsets?

Note to readers

If you recently published a comment on Women Who Serve and you don't see it anymore, please know that it was accidentally wiped out in a blog cleanse. I apologize. Also--as much as I didn't want to do it--I've had to institute word verification. Your comments are always most appreciated.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Pavlyuchenkova wins Portugal Open

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, seeded 3rd at the Portugal Open, won the singles title today when she defeated Carla Suarez Navarro 7-5. 6-2 in the final. 2nd seeds Chan Hao-Ching and Kristina Mladenovic won the doubles title, defeating Darja Jurak and Katalin Marosi 7-6, 6-2.

This year marked the tournament's debut on the tour. Pavlyuchenkova has now won five WTA titles.